A MUSICIAN whose burgeoning career sees him spend much of his time in LA and London brought his band up to his native North-East to perform at his old school.

Mark John Race, of transatlantic three-piece pop band Raynes, dropped in on Durham School to perform their debut single in front of a full house of pupils and staff in the school's chapel before lessons on Wednesday.

The Old Dunelmian made headlines last year when Raynes were given a publishing deal with Sony ATV, one of the biggest music publishing companies in the world.

Durham singer's Sony deal after joining band that found him on Instagram

Mark, who spent four or five years performing in pubs and clubs all over the region 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 split their time between Los Angeles, London and the North East in the run up to the release of their 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.

He said: “I got into Durham School on a music scholarship and was a member of the choir and the guitar group too.

“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, pupils were also treated to a rendition of Raynes 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.”

The visit to Durham came during a busy period of promotion for Raynes, featuring a number of radio appearances and live performances to spread the word about the new single far and wide.

“It’s all been incredible and a bit of a whirlwind,” said Mark of his experiences in the music industry so far.

The band has been team up with acclaimed producer Mighty Mike– who has worked with Lana Del Rey, The Neighbourhood and Dua Lipa– and Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Joe LaPorta– who has worked alongside 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.”

Headmaster Kieran McLaughlin said: “It’s always wonderful to follow the lives and careers of our Old Dunelmians and see them take the confidence for life we give them during their time at Durham School and run with it.“We were delighted to welcome Mark back. It was such a treat for us all that he brought the band along with him and everyone really enjoyed their performance. We will be watching his success with a lot of pride and wish the band lots of luck”

Raynes are on Instagram and the single can be streamed at ffm.to/lemondrop