Mark Haze is a successfull Capetonian musician. According to his website:
"I’ve always dreamed of being a musician and performing in front of thousands, recording songs and having them played on radios and televisions all over the world, travelling to different places to play my music to different people … I am finally living that dream!
I was born in Goodwood, a suburb of Cape Town in South Africa and grew up in the city of Bellville.
Our house was always filled with music - It was around me from a very young age. My parents say that when I was 2 years old, they would find me standing in front of the Hi-Fi singing at the top of my lungs to Bruce Springsteen, Queen, DuranDuran, and many others. Even then, I loved performing in front of people.
My grandmother would play the piano, my grandfather would sing along to it – A fantastic Tenor, who performed regularly as a soloist in the Church Choir. My father used to play in a rock band in his youth, and we would often go watch my Uncle Trevor perform in his band on weekends. I guess you could say that music was always around me.
At the age of 4, I was asked to sing in front of our Church – a story my parents still proudly tell when they have guests – they like to boast at the fact that I had to do several encores.
When I turned 7, I was enrolled in piano lessons in school.
It was at that time, after seeing my Uncle play, that I begged my parents to get me a guitar. I played it night and day and learned riffs from my favourite songs.
I really took a liking to the Blues, and for a long time I idolised the greats, like Eric Clapton, BB King, and Muddy Waters.
When I started at high school, I began delving into my father’s LP collection and learnt about the classic Rock bands of the 60s and 70s, namely Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen to name a few. They became my refuge, my happy place – something that was mine. I started reading up about these artists, mimicking their antics on videos that I found and borrowed and idolised their very existence.
The older I got, the more their lyrics affected me – helped me to realise how music can help others and transport us to another universe.
I started writing my own songs and took music theory courses at school to better understand the inner workings. It was then that I really started to learn about the history and beauty of music through the ages. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky helped to show me the other end of the spectrum.
The other students in my classes shared their knowledge of Jazz and R&B and I in turn showed them what I knew about the Rock n’ Roll side of things.
I learned how to play the drums, had a go at the trumpet and harmonica and even took classical guitar lessons. I performed in a few Jazz bands during school, and also started playing drums in the school Orchestra and Marching Band. All these things helped me to see the overall picture of music – I used these influences and incorporated them into my own Rock n’ Roll style. However, I desperately wanted to get out there and start performing my own songs and start my own band.
When I left school, I did just that…
My first band, Novus ended as abruptly as it began. We played a few pub gigs, but weren’t able to keep it together. I was asked to join a more established group in the Indie music scene called, Liquid Sky. I stayed with the band as their guitarist for just over a year, but desperately felt the need to sing, so I left. I worked with several cover bands and guested with many other projects - nothing I could really sink my teeth into.
I then started the band, 12th Avenue in 2001. We had our share of ups and downs, but were a good band. We managed to record 4 albums together – none really scraping the surface of the music industry, but we did manage to get a decent following. We had 2 number 1 songs on a few radio stations and a couple of top 10 tracks, but with every success came one disappointment after the next. Band members leaving to carry on with “real life”, Management stealing money from us, false promises from indie record labels – the list goes on and on.
I never lost hope throughout all of this.
There was always that chance that something would come along one day, as long as I continue to work hard and believe in myself and my songs.
It was around this time that I had come up with what was to be my credo:
“Rock n’ Roll will save the world”
I coined the phrase one night - I remember performing at a show and at one point during one of my songs, the crowd all started to sing along. I’ve noticed it at many shows since, and not just at my own.
What I mean is, it’s that moment, where nothing else in the world matters. When for just a few minutes, everyone is joined together in a moment of peace and happiness – a crowd together as one.
That, right there, is why I love music!
In 2010, I went to the USA on a part holiday/part record label hunt.
My friends and I went to Disneyworld and while there, my wife convinced me to enter “The American Idol Experience” – a shortened day-long version of the television show.
To my surprise, they were very impressed with me and put me into the competition. I ended up winning! This entitled me to a Golden Ticket, which meant that I was able to enter American Idol and not have to stand in the queues, but go directly to perform for the judges.
Disaster struck again with the fact that I did not have enough money to get back to the States to audition, nor would I have enough money to leave my job in South Africa to live in the USA on the off-chance that I may go further in the competition.
It seemed that it was becoming more and more apparent that my dream of being a full-time musician was drifting further from my reach. In fact, many of my friends were telling me that perhaps it was time to throw in the towel and focus on being a normal guy with a normal job.
However, winning the competition gave me so much more confidence to persevere – I made the decision to enter South African Idols.
I had no delusions – this was going to be tough! A contestant from a Rock n’ Roll background has never done well in the SA Idols competition.
I never expected to go to the top 2, but I really just enjoyed the opportunity to be able to work and perform every day – something I was never able to do.
Prior to participating in Idols, I had a 9 to 5 job, and performed on weekends with my band.
I was able to show the country what I could do and round by round I crept my way to the finale, where I ended in second place and had gained many fans in the process.
I am eternally grateful to all the people who watched the show and voted for me, because they believed in me. These fans are still at my shows today and continue to show their support by buying my albums and downloading my singles.
I am in no way disappointed at my Idols result. The competition gave me so much exposure. I was picked up for a recording contract with Universal Records and am playing shows all over the country as well as across the borders with my band.
I have had the opportunity to perform alongside some of the world’s greatest musicians, as well as meet people from all over the world. The variety in the shows that I am able to do keeps me on my toes and I am very excited at every opportunity that continues to come my way.
Throughout everything I’ve gone through and will continue to go through, I know that I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love to do and have always dreamed of doing every day.
It’s because of this, that I perform every show as if it was my last!"