Both of Bernie’s parents were musically inclined with his father being professionally trained in vocals and music. They were a constant influence on Bernie and his two sisters, however, it would be a while before this path opened itself for Bernie. He had other ideas about where his life should take him.
From an early age, Bernie yearned to travel the world and become an architect and a part-time chef. Although he had musical instruments at his fingertips, he preferred to be in the kitchen learning to cook or sketching city landscapes. It wasn’t until the age of ten that Bernie began to take a serious interest in music, igniting the musical passion within him. He began with the base guitar, self- teaching and practicing up to eight hours a day and went on to play in the local church band that was led by his father.
At the age of seventeen, Bernie and his father built a home recording studio enabling Bernie to quickly master the synthesizer and learn many other instruments. He also became proficient in the art of sequencing and producing music for songwriters which vastly increased his skills.
Bernie eventually found himself feeling a little uneasy. Although he was having fun producing music, he was twenty-five years old and still living in the small quaint city of Salem, Oregon. He knew things had to change and took a radical step by announcing to his family, “I’m moving to Japan!” That one sentence would change Bernie’s life beyond all that he could have imagined.
Bernie grabbed all of his savings, jumped on a plane and headed for Japan. He adored the time spent in Japan and although it was a struggle to make ends meet, the people he met and the friendships created made it all worthwhile. Bernie began to give English lessons but he needed that little bit extra in the form of income and it was then that an idea made itself known. Being a talented musician, he could entertain in lounges and bars, however, he knew that this path would be difficult since not knowing the language was a formidable barrier.
After a few months of trying to crack the music scene in Nagoya, Japan, Bernie had a breakthrough. A sports bar named Shooters was holding an open mic night and it was there after a string of events with the rockabilly band “The Fats” that Bernie’s life was about to take a very interesting turn. He was approached by a very well- known singing artist named Prisca Molotsi who immediately noticed Bernie’s raw talent. Prisca brought Bernie into the music scene by having him sing at popular jazz venues such as Jungle Jap and Star Eyes where he was heard by many.
Another opportunity now presented itself for Bernie when approached one evening by a man named Hiroyiki Tobitsuka. He ran an entertainment agency and offered Bernie his first official contract with one of the most prestigious hotels in Japan-The Ritz Carlton Osaka! At the completion of this assignment, Bernie then accepted contracts at the Westin Chosun and Grand Hyatt hotels in Seoul, South Korea.
Bernie then became interested in the idea of performing on a cruise ship and contacted agent Michael Suman in Florida. He was hired and embarked on a new adventure entertaining for Royal Caribbean, Disney and Norwegian Cruise lines. He has established himself as a well-known and popular cruise ship entertainer appearing in various venues including the lounge, theater, dining room, casino, atrium and pool deck.
Bernie continues his journey down the musical path and has added public appearances and private parties in San Antonio, Texas. His website at berniemartini.com contains information on where he is currently entertaining.
This has been the story of how one simple decision to visit Japan transformed Bernie’s life. He continues exploring many opportunities while traveling along the unfolding glittering path.