Photo Credit: Supplied

Michael Ferguson recently made South Africa super proud after he showcased his talent on ‘Idols Austria’. But beyond the competition, this Joburger is slowly but surely becoming an act to know across the pond, and has actually been part of many more musical moments that made South Africans beam! This is his story:


Global (09 April 2024) — Michael Ferguson has travelled a long road from Roodepoort to becoming an up-and-coming musical talent to know in Austria. After a video of him performing at the Austrian version of Idols (titled ‘die Grosse Chance’) caught South Africa’s attention, Good Things Guy knew we needed to find out more about the local abroad!

Not only did Michael make it to the last round before the semi finals, he’s actually begun to make quite the musical impact across the pond. Moreover, this is far from his first time making South Africa proud with his gift of song.

Back at school in Pretoria Boys High, Michael was part of ‘Allegra Street Theme’ with a few names many South Africans will know—including Nic Jordaan of Rubber Duc and Jon Bell (Wonderboom). Together with Sven van Duffelen, they won the global battle of the bands (the SA stretch) and got to represent South Africa in London!

Michael ended up going solo and released his debut album ‘Rock n’ Roll Souljah’ in 2013 where he got to perform across the country and around the world. A few years later, he would write ‘Paper Plane’ about a friend’s journey to becoming a pilot—the same ‘Paper Plane’ that would play a big role in inspiring none other than the Children’s Flight. 

After more tour moments and chances to fall in love with South Africa further, the pandemic rolled around.

“I remember thinking ‘This is really gonna be tough on the music industry, I need to make a plan to find other ways of making money for a while…’ Michael shares.

It was around the time of this rightful sense of urgency that Michael got the opportunity to work temporarily in Vienna as one of the last flights out of Joburg in 2020.

Initially planning to work for 3 months, the pandemic had other plans. ‘3 months’ turned into much longer, and it wasn’t long until he got a job working at a wellness hotel in Austria.

Missing the music, Michael counted down the days until he could get back to live music once more.

“I had a plan—I worked in the kitchen, serving guests drinks and food and cleaning, waiting until live music was allowed again and after about 1 year of doing that, I approached the owner and said ‘I think the team and staff here need some motivation and uplifting, can I write a song for the hotel?”. He loved the idea and so the song ‘Better Together’ became a regional story of hope in all local newspapers and on TV as well.”

This bolstered Michael’s musical positioning in the country greatly, and afforded him the opportunity to perform across Austria!

After 3 song releases there, Michael describes being poked and prodded by those close to him to give the Austrian Idols competition a go—something he describes as a wonderful experience.

“I did it for the experience and hopefully to inspire others by flying the SA flag high…Although I didn’t make it to the final 12, I received incredible response from all over—especially on social media from back home—and that truly warmed my heart!”

For Michael, making South Africa proud is a big part of his craft—especially being so far away from his roots. Beyond regular singing, Michael rarely shies away from singing South Africa’s places, even after all his time away.

“I miss SA every day and my love for it always calls me back. I have been fortunate enough to travel far and wide, and having lived in Austria for 4 years, has reminded me why there is absolutely no place like south Africa—and I say this from an unbiased point of view,” he says.

“Our people are extraordinary and so colourful—their friendliness and openness is second to none. I could write a book on the beauty of our wildlife, nature, people and culture but in a nutshell, South Africa is undeniably my favourite place in the world, I will be back for good, for sure.”

Michael is now working on a new album that will draw on his two homes—SA and Austria. Set to be a collaborative effort, he hopes to bring the music home soon.

Sources: GTG Interview 
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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