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Big talent from a small town

Four emerging artists credit their Whistler roots for inspiration



Small towns breed big talent. Meet four young women whose success in the performing arts was nurtured in Whistler.

At the age of 10 Ali Milner didn’t know she had talent as a singer, but she was determined to join the Moving Chords Show Choir. She wowed the choir directors with her voice, well-rehearsed show tune and choreography, and was invited to join the choir, even though she was a year too young.

Milner may not have known she had talent back then, but her ability to perform wasn’t hiding far beneath the surface.

Cut forward six years. Milner released her first self-title CD in September 2006 and in November she performed in front of an audience of 60,000 at the Guandong International Tourism and Culture Festival as part of a contingent of performers from B.C. She took the stage right after film star Jackie Chan.

“It was so much fun,” Milner says. “I made friends with people from other nations. I was running on very little sleep the whole time, but I didn’t feel tired while I was there.”

Her Thursday night gig at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, Après with Ali, attracts a regular crowd. “It’s a good gig,” she says. “I like chatting with people, and it’s good for my piano skills. It’s awkward when people don’t laugh at my jokes, though.”

This is a kid who is going places.

And what role did Whistler play in all of this success?

“It is a good base for learning artistically,” Milner says. “People stick by you. You know people will root for you. There’s a good vibe in this town.”

However, coming from a small town that is more focused on sport than arts has its challenges. Once she and her parents realized her musical talent, Milner wanted to take her singing further. In order to do that, she had to travel to Vancouver. She auditioned for the Vancouver Children’s Choir, and was accepted into the Chamber Choir. For three years she traveled to Vancouver each week. “It was a great experience,” she says. “I learned to sight read music, and to harmonize with other singers.”

By the age of 13 she had met her current agent, Zack Werner, best known as the mean judge on Canadian Idol. She began working on her CD. A year later she traveled to Toronto and worked with songwriter James Robinson to write the songs for the CD.

She continues to travel to Vancouver for jazz piano lessons with Bob Murch and vocal lessons with Joanie Taylor. “Mostly I work on my performance skills, interpretation of lyrics, and interacting with the audience.”

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