One of Whistler’s outstanding performers, Rachel Thom, is well on the way to making a name for herself in the entertainment industry.
The 19-year-old actress and musician took home the Sea to Sky Battle of the Bands title in 2007. More recently, she attended a five-day International Presentation of Performers (iPOP) conference in Vancouver, participating in the acting and singing categories.
iPOP featured 500 singers, dancers, actors and models who were selected from performing arts schools across the country to compete for contracts with top international agencies and record labels scouting for new talent, like Virgin, Sony BMG, and Jive Records. The competition has been a biannual event in the United States for years, but this was the first Canadian competition.
Thom has been performing since she was five, and began acting and competing at the age of eight. But the iPOP experience was something else, even for this experienced young performer.
“It was intense… All of the agents and casting directors and record labels were there. They were there scouting — that was their purpose.”
Thom was one of only 40 performers chosen for the final evening showcase. She was also selected as the singer of the year, and placed within the top 10 spots for monologue, scene, commercial, and actor of the year.
The only representative from Whistler at iPOP, Thom made the community proud, bringing home a huge microphone trophy and medals in each category she competed in.
And it looks like her hard work during the five days of auditions has already paid dividends — Thom was signed to an acting agency, Vancouver-based Starcast Actors, on Tuesday morning. And she’s already heard back from a rep from Virgin Records.
“It’s pretty surreal. I usually sing in public as much as I can, even in elevators and bathrooms and whatever, just because you never know who’s going to be around you,” Thom said with a laugh. “But for this, it was like these people were coming to look for us. It was really strange!”
Crowning Whistler’s top songwriters
There are loads of talented musicians in Whistler, but only two will be named as royalty during the inaugural King and Queen of Song competition.
Organized by the 2008 Battle of the Bands winner, Mike McDonald, and long-time local performer Drew Wilson, the event will offer a rare opportunity for Whistler musicians to break away from playing covers, and show the audience what they’re really made of in an original showcase format.
“We’re just wanting to show that there are some great original musicians out there,” Wilson said in a recent interview. “Whistler’s all about the same people singing the same covers five nights a week. Those people can also do their own stuff, and it’s kind of sad that there aren’t a lot of venues that support that at the moment, especially after the Pemberton Festival and the Whistler (Music) Festival.”
Wilson pointed out that there are a lot of musicians in town who are talented songwriters, and they need a venue to showcase that talents. He added that the Whistler Arts Council’s Street Entertainment Series provides such an opportunity during the summer months.
“It’s these type of people that are going to be the next Dallas Greens or the next Coldplay — this is where they start from,” Wilson said.
While there are some sweet prizes up for grabs, including a day at the Digital Sound Magic Recording Studios in Vancouver, gigs at the Crystal Lounge, musical equipment and door prizes for audience members, this competition isn’t so focused on the competitive aspect.
The competition will be held at the Crystal Lounge on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. Head to the Crystal to fill out an application if you’re interested in competing.
Did you go to Pemberton Festival?
If you attended the massive inaugural festival on the field north of Whistler this summer, and want a chance to tell the community what you thought of the event, here’s your chance to be heard. The Village of Pemberton is hosting a Pemberton Festival feedback session at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11 at the new community centre. You can also pass along your thoughts on the first-time festival through the VOP’s website: www.pemberton.ca .