Cape Town - Anke Pietrangeli, 20, entered the second season of Idols South Africa in 2003, winning over the hearts and votes of thousands.
Hosted by Colin Moss and Letoya Makhene, and with Dave Thompson, Randall Abrahams, and Mara Louw on the judging panel, it was also the first time on any Idols season worldwide that only two male singers advanced to the top 12.
Sixteen years later, nicknamed 'The Kimberley Diamond', Anke wants her fans to know that she never took their support and votes for granted and that today she is still grateful for the experience.
Channel24 tracked down Anke, living a quiet life with her husband and 7-week old daughter in Cape Town, still performing on stage and doing what she loves most - music.
About her journey on Idols so many years ago, 36-year-old Anke says that even though she made some poor decisions, it put her on the path she is today, and she couldn't be happier.
"I was a student in my first or second year, and going from being an average university student to being in the public eye was an adjustment. You're not a normal person anymore, everybody knows your name, and how you look. It was quite hectic for me, everything changed, and it was hard. I like my privacy, and I was young, inexperienced, and I wasn't very mature at that age. I didn't know what life had in store for me," she says
Anke remembers that exciting time in her life, saying that today's 20-year-olds are different from when she was that age.
"The decisions I make now at the age of 36 is different from the decision I made at 21. I was impulsive. I was very stubborn, and I thought that the decisions that I was making were the best for me at the time, to protect myself."
With the knowledge she has now, Anke says that the entertainment business is "cut-throat." "It can rip you apart, and when you do something wrong, then it's all over the news. The negative publicity and comments not only hurt you as a musician but as a person," she says.
It was at that moment when she decided to take a break from the spotlight and focus on getting her feet back firmly on the ground.
Looking back, Anke admits that it might not have been the best decision, as she has experienced first-hand how difficult it is to make a triumphant return to the limelight.
"The public thought that I stopped singing, which I didn't and I think it damaged my reputation. But at that stage of my life, it was what I needed," she says.
SHE IS IN A BAND
Since taking a break from the constant public scrutiny, Anke wants people to know that she never stopped making music and that she is part of a band in Cape Town.
"I'm currently performing with a band in Cape Town. They've been around for about 35 years, called Late Final. The band members might have changed through the years, but they are still around. They are a group of veteran rockers. We do corporate events, weddings, basically a function band. I still do solo gigs, but most of my gigs are with them," she says when asked about her music career after Idols.
She admits that despite the hiccups, Idols allowed her to be able to pursue a music career and if it weren't for the reality show she wouldn't be on the path she is now.
"I would be living in a different town, probably have a different husband. It was a learning curve and put me on the right path that I am today," she muses.
Anke, who recently became a mom for the first time, says motherhood has been difficult, but she wouldn't wish her life any other way.
"While many moms have their children when they are very young, I'm 36 years old, and I only had my first baby seven weeks ago. My husband is already talking about baby number two," she laughs.
She says that she loves being a mother even though the first month was "tough," saying: "She was always screaming and crying and we didn't know why. I'm crying because she is crying. And you think that you're a horrible mom. But babies are learning all the time, and are overwhelmed with all the new things happening around them. It's expected for them to be overcome with emotions."
ON BEING A MOM NOW
"But now she is smiling, and she is so lovely. I'm dreading going back to work. I want to stay with her, protect her, and love her. I now know why I was created and put on this earth. And nothing else matters to me except this little girl and my family.
"After I finish a gig, I rush home to see her, no matter the time," she laughs. Anke describes her life as "content," saying: "I've put projects on the back-burner because I am a new mother and a wife. I put my family first, and being a mom is my priority. When my baby is older, I can focus on my solo career again. Which I have always planned on doing."
She then recalls a quote from Willie Nelson: "There is no age restriction to music."
Anke laughs when she says: "Even if I am 40 or 50 years old I can still make a comeback. It will be a focus for me in the future. I'll have to plan it right and not rush it."
When she has some time to herself, which rarely happens with a newborn in the house, Anke says she loves to workout or go for a jog. "It's like my therapy," she says.
She's been taking it easy getting back to running, per her doctor's orders and also enjoys spending time with her family and indulging in a glass of wine while standing next to the 'braai.'
Whether or not she would be comfortable if her daughter decides to enter the entertainment industry, is something she has already discussed with her husband.
"We are both musical, and my husband also plays the guitar and sings a bit. The way she screams, she has a set of vocal cords on her.
"If she would want to go into the entertainment industry, I will support her, and tell her to be prepared for the worst case scenario. But I would appreciate it if she would come to me and ask for advice. If she fails, that is also okay. When you fail, it means that something better is waiting for you."
I DIDN'T THROW IT AWAY
She then draws on her own experiences and says: "If I could go back and change the way that I handled and made decisions during Idols, then I would. But on the other hand, I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for those experiences.
"Getting married, and having a baby changes a person's life a lot. I am keen on a solo career, but the planning is crucial. The right music and musicians. I am still in it. I didn't throw it away. It's something that I will never stop doing, and I will be making my entrance back into the industry, not when I'm 50, but maybe when I'm 41," she giggles.