PITBULL rockets into mainstream, cherishes what America has to offer

He may be known as Mr. 305 and Mr. Worldwide but in an interview last year, music sensation Pitbull was Mr. Softie.

The always smiling, laughing, high-energy ladies man showed a sensitive side in an interview on Telemundo with his former teacher, Hope Martinez, who taught him for one year in a theater class.

The Cuban dynamo from Miami became teary-eyed as he heard Martinez talk via video about what it was like to have him as a student.

“He didn’t have an easy life growing up,” Martinez said in Spanish. “But he helped himself.”

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Pitbull blew the video screen a kiss and was then surprised to learn that Martinez was actually there in person as she walked out. “She told me she believed in me,” he said. “Not many people say that to you.”

Martinez was smart to believe in Pitbull, who has been nominated for 34 awards since 2008, including ALMA Award wins for Favorite Male Music Artist in 2011 and 2012 as well as Top Radio song at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards for “Give Me Everything.” He also recently jumped into the entrepreneurial game, becoming a significant partner in new sandwich chain, Miami Subs Grill.

Pitbull, who was born Armando Cristian Perez, has blended a sound that gets people’s bodies moving and recalls the unmistakable Latino and Cuban influence he grew up with.

When he was only three years old, he could recite the works of Cuba’s national hero and poet, José Marti, and says his music is inspired by icons Celia Cruz and Willy Chirino.

Whether he is performing at jam-packed venues across the country or sitting down with the TODAY Show, Pitbull makes sure to let everyone know what being Cuban-American means to him.

“You appreciate everything this country has to offer,” Pitbull said. “Opportunity, freedom, the chance to create a future for your family — create your own destiny, that’s something that was instilled in us.”

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He says his abuela and his tia were always quick to remind him — “esto no pasa en Cuba” — this doesn’t happen in Cuba, so he always remembers to be grateful for his success.

And a huge part of that success has been Pitbull’s remarkable ability to tap into the mainstream market and get everyone dancing regardless of if they’re Latino or not.

“No matter what language you speak or what culture you represent, music is a universal language,” Pitbull says.

“Wherever I go they speak English or they speak Spanish, but they speak music.”

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