"I've always dreamed of being a musician and performing in front of thousands, recording songs and having them played on radio and television all over the world, travelling to different places to play my music to different people."
Mark Haze was born in Goodwood, a suburb of Cape Town and his house was always filled with music. His parents say that when he was 2 years old they would find him standing in front of the Hi-Fi singing at the top of his lungs to Bruce Springsteen, Queen, and Duran Duran.
At the age of 7, he was enrolled in piano lessons in school and after seeing his uncle play, he begged his parents to get him a guitar. He played that guitar night and day and really took a liking to the Blues, and for a long time idolised the greats, like Eric Clapton, BB King, and Muddy Waters.
When he started at high school, he began delving into his father's LP collection and learnt about the classic Rock bands of the 60s and 70s. Listening to these records became a refuge, his happy place – something that belonged to him.
He started writing his own songs and took music theory courses at school to better understand the inner workings. It was then that he really started to learn about the history and beauty of music through the ages. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky helped to show him the other end of the spectrum.
To try to fulfil his insatiable love of music he learned how to play the drums, had a go at the trumpet and harmonica and even took classical guitar lessons. He performed in a few Jazz bands during school, and also started playing drums in the school Orchestra and Marching Band. All these things helped him to see the overall picture of music but he desperately wanted to get out there and start performing his own songs and start his own band.
When Mark left school, he did just that...
His first band, Novus, ended as abruptly as it began. They played a few pub gigs, but weren't able to keep it together. He joined another band as their guitarist for just over a year, but desperately felt the need to sing, so left. He worked with several cover bands and guested with many other projects – but it was nothing he could really sink his teeth into.
He then started the band, 12th Avenue in 2001. They managed to record 4 albums together and although they had 2 number 1 songs on a few radio stations, they had a lot of downs as well - band members leaving to carry on with "real life", management stealing money from them, false promises from indie record labels – the list went 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..."
In 2010, he went to the USA on a part holiday/part record label hunt. Him and his friends went to Disneyworld and while there, his wife convinced him to enter 'The American Idol Experience' – a shortened day-long version of the television show.
To his surprise, they were very impressed and put him into the competition. He ended up winning! This entitled him to a Golden Ticket, which meant that he 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 he did not have enough money to get back to the States to audition, nor would he have enough money to leave his job in South Africa to live in the USA on the off-chance that he may go further in the competition.
"However, winning the competition gave me so much more confidence to persevere and so I made the decision to enter South African Idols. I had no delusions – this was going to be tough! In the end I was able to show the country what I could do and round by round I crept my way to the finale."
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. 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."