When resort popstress Rachel Thom was visiting Vancouver last month, a psychic gave her a clear sign of all the good things to come in her life.
“She told me I was going to have one of the best years I’ve had in the last nine,” said Thom.
What the psychic didn’t tell her was that she wouldn’t have to wait too long for one of those good things to come to fruition, because just hours later the 24-year-old was named as the new Miss Whistler for 2013, coming as a bit of a surprise to the multi-talented Edmonton native.
Thom’s path to the beauty crown started last summer, when after putting on a bit of weight she decided it was time to get back in shape, and enlisted the help of a local trainer, starting a four-week bootcamp that saw her work out for up to six hours a day. After losing 13 pounds in the month, Thom thought she would try out for the Whistler Exposed bikini calendar “as a sort of cherry on top of the whole journey.” Coming in with no expectations, Thom eventually earned a spot on the calendar competing against over 30 other women.
“I thought it was really cool because the other girls were posing with things, but mine felt special because Rachel Thom has been a name in Whistler for seven years as this local songstress and it’s really neat that people still appreciate that,” she said “I’m in this calendar but I’m in it as me.”
The confidence she gained from the experience carried over to this year’s Miss Whistler contest, which she entered at the urging of several friends and last year’s title winner, Sherry Hunt. Still, she had doubts about taking part in what she thought would be “just another bikini strut,” but after wowing a packed house at Tommy Africa’s with her soulful a capella performance during the talent portion of the contest, the crown was hers.
Not an avid skier or snowboarder, Thom admitted she’s not your “typical Whistler girl” but still represents her community with pride.
“I’m not a huge party animal. I’m a pretty wholesome Miss Whistler and own my own businesses, so I’m definitely different from the other girls,” she said.
Of course, beauty pageants are far from Thom’s No. 1 passion, with the singer pouring her recent efforts into StarSun Studios, a new multimedia and photography company she launched with fellow Whistler musician Mike FroMontreal, adding another venture to her already long list of accomplishments.
But music has and always will be the main focus for the mutli-instrumental Thom, who said she’s been singing since before she could talk, and performing publicly since the age of five.
“I’m one of the only people I can think of who’s always known what their thing is,” she said. “I’ve always known what I want and what I’m good at, and that’s been singing.”
With an EP under her belt, 2010’s Wear and Tear, and notable performances alongside such music industry heavyweights as Sarah McLachlan, Gene Simmons and Barney Bentall during the Olympics, Thom has had a taste of mainstream music success and has certainly felt the allure of the big city. Even still, she’s not about to leave the mountain town she’s called home for the past seven years.
“I don’t hate being a big fish in a small pond, so moving to Vancouver would probably just bust my ego bubble,” she said. “It’s just not the same. I’ve been coming to Whistler since I was nine, my aunt and uncle live here, one of my brothers lives here, both my parents live here six months of the year, so I don’t want to go anywhere, I’ve got it pretty good here.”
A regular at the Crystal Lounge’s weekly jam sessions, Thom has collaborated with a who’s who list of Whistler performers, and has seen the resort’s music scene grow by leaps and bounds in her time here.
“I feel like the talent here is pretty extraordinary … I’ve collaborated with Jon Shrier, Sean Rose, Susan Holden, and others, and they are all kind of like my peeps. The best thing is that we’re such good friends and all supportive of each other, there’s never been any negative competition or animosity,” Thom said. “I think the scene is growing and a lot of good things are going to continue to come out of this town from all over the world.”
Thom is currently working on her next EP, which she expects for release sometime in 2014. She performs regularly at venues across town.