Rachel Thom has the second place curse. She can't shake it and it's a serious problem. It started at last year's Whistler's Got Talent and she's been riding that streak ever since. Every competition: second place. There must be no greater bummer, the universe telling her, "Rachel Thom, you're almost the best."
"My confidence is a little shaken, due to that," she says with a laugh.
But she's joined the Whistler's Got Talent contest anyway - and it has nothing to do with first place. No, Ms. Thom likes the hype.
"It's the dramatic aspect of it," she says while depositing money at an ATM and far too chipper for a gloomy October afternoon.
"I really don't care . I don't know. Competing is a funny thing because, in a way, it's seen as this rivalry, coming with your claws out sort of thing. To me though, it's more about support (for the artists)."
How altruistic. The confident and very charming Edmonton-born singer beat out four local acts last Thursday. She played four of her own songs and an Alicia Keys cover for a crowd of attentive, if a little drunken, locals at the Crystal Lounge, blending soul and pop that showcased her, um, proficient singing abilities and mature songwriting abilities - all of which was backed by drummer Phil T Beats (which is not his legal name but Pique recommends that he makes it so).
It was a tight contest though, with the duo Laurel and Ben coming in a close second. The judges decided to give them the wild card vote and they, too, will be in the finals on Oct. 21. The only downside? No profile in this here paper. Shed a tear, L + B.
Thom's abilities as a singer are no surprise, given her family background. Her dad plays a variety of instruments, her two brothers are singer/songwriters and her mom likes to sing. She started performing at five, songwriting at 10. Self taught on the keyboard. And the kid has pipes, so it should be no surprise to anyone who has ever seen her perform.
"My voice has been my main instrument that I have always focused on and have been the most interested in."
Thom will have to step up her game. The previous week's winner, Jon Shrier, told us that he's going to bring is A-game - there's a determination to beat his good friend Rachel, which may, just may, prolong her second place curse.
But Thom's certainly no slouch on the stage and she looks "forward to beating my friend Jon" with a batch of new songs.
"I want to focus on the originals. My goal is my solo project right now and I want to really market the original music," she says.
That solo project has berthed a four-song EP, Wear & Tear , for which she'll be hosting a CD release party at the GLC on Nov. 26. The lead single for that album received heavy rotation on Mountain FM over the year.
The third round of Whistler's Got Talent is on tonight (Thursday, Oct. 14), with the finals the following week, where Thom will battle it out with the other finalists in what could be a dramatic and fiercely emotional competition rife with public freakouts, performers collapsing onstage due to the pressure and maybe a bit of singer vs. singer fist-fighting. The judges can only hope.