A Durham singer who hit the headlines when he clinched a deal with Sony after being scouted on Instagram has returned to his old school.
Pupils at Durham School got a surprise on Wednesday morning when transatlantic three-piece pop band Raynes arrived to make the start to the day a very musical one.
The band, which is headed up by ‘Old Dunelmian’ Mark John Race, performed for a full house of students and staff in the School’s Chapel before lessons.
The visit marked a triumphant return to the school for Mark, who made headlines at the end of last year when Raynes were given a publishing deal with Sony ATV, one of the biggest music publishing companies in the world.
Mark, who had spent four or five years performing in pubs and clubs all over the North East and around the UK, joined the band after American bandmates Mat Charley and Joe Berger found him through Instagram while scouting the world for a lead singer.
Since signing the deal, the trio have been splitting their time between Los Angeles, London and the North East in the run-up to the release of their debut single, Lemon Drop.
Mark, 24, said: “It was really good – and a little surreal – to come back and perform with the band at Durham School. It was very nice to be back and see some familiar faces who used to teach me.”
Classically trained on the piano, it was when Mark was 14 and still a pupil at Durham School when he began to foster ambitions for pop success.
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“I got into Durham School on a music scholarship and was a member of the choir and the guitar group too,” he said.
“I also played the role of Jean Valjean in a School production of Les Miserables, so I was used to performing here – but today was something else!”
During the exclusive performance on Wednesday morning, pupils were treated to a rendition of the aforementioned debut single as well as a cover version of nineties anthem, Sit Down by James.
“We got a really lovely response,” said Mark. “Everyone seemed to enjoy it and there were lots of photos being taken. It was a lot of fun.”
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“It’s all been incredible and a bit of a whirlwind,” said Mark of his experiences in the music industry so far, which has seen the band working with producer Mighty Mike (Lana Del Rey, The Neighbourhood, Dua Lipa) and Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Joe LaPorta (David Bowie, Vampire Weekend, Shawn Mendes).
“We’re so pleased that people are starting to hear our music and have plans to put out two more singles over the next two or three months and then hopefully an EP after that.”