Painting, producing and performing all part of Constellation Festival co-organizer’s artist pursuits
Words Lin Stranberg X Photography Lia Crowe
Voiceover artist Tamara Stanners, who was born and raised in the town of St. Albert, Alberta, frequently travelled to nearby Edmonton to go to pop and rock music concerts. Her mother took her to her first one.
“I went to as many concerts as I could,” she says enthusiastically. “I loved the energy I would get from watching artists that I loved—I was empowered by it.”
Her passion for popular music fed her long-time ambition to be in radio, the biggest music medium of the baby boomer era. Her drive and dynamism, paired with the clarity and strength of her speaking voice, led her into a successful career as a radio announcer.
“Radio is an incredible way to share music and community,” she says.
She hit a career highlight in 2008 while working in radio with the Pattison Broadcast Group, Canada’s largest western-based broadcast company. With Pattison’s support, she was hired to help launch 102.7 THE PEAK, a Vancouver alternative music station with a focus on the development of Canadian talent, a particular passion of hers that she has continued to nurture over the years.
Back in the ‘90s, Tamara worked as an actress in a number of television series.
“I love arts of all kinds,” she says. “I’m a terrible actress, but I appeared in several TV shows and movies. I was a busy actress!”
Twenty-two years ago, she and her businessman husband, Lorne Badger, moved from West Vancouver to the Judd farm, a beautiful, century-old farmhouse in the Brackendale neighbourhood of Squamish. (“It’s like the wild west!” she says gleefully of Squamish.) She loves her home, loves Squamish, loves her life there. It’s a good life, with her voiceover studio, her family, her painting and her summer music festival, the Squamish Constellation Festival.
She began the Constellation Festival in 2019. The following year was 2020, and the festival lineup was ready to go when the pandemic suddenly hit. The event was put on hold for two years. Tamara, former Squamish mayor Patricia Heintzman and former journalist and music industry PR professional Kirsten Andrews (festival co-producer) “spent two years writing, watching and creating.”
“We feel stronger than ever before to put on something beautiful,” Tamara said.
They were ready to try again.
Collectively, they chose the artists who will perform during the three-day festival this year. There are great musicians like local superstar Sarah McLachlan; the Black Pumas from Austin, Texas; July Talk, a Canadian alternative rock band based in Toronto; and well-known British singer/songwriter Teddy Thompson. The many Indigenous musicians include William Prince, a singer/songwriter from Winnipeg; iskwē, a Cree/Dené/Irish songstress originally from Winnipeg; and PIQSIQ, two Inuit throat singing sisters.
It’s a varied and powerful lineup of more than 30 genres, curated with care. There’s an abundance of Canadian talent and that means a lot to Tamara.
“Music has been a motivator to me my whole life, and to be able to share this music with people who wouldn’t ordinarily see it is a joy,” she says.
From July 22 through 24, the musicians are scheduled to perform on two alternating stages with no overlap, providing a continuous live sound track to the Constellation Festival, a daytime community event “welcoming and celebrating all ages, cultures and genders.”
It happens at Hendrickson Field on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, just north of the Stawamus Chief. People can camp onsite, park their cars, or grab a shuttle from Whistler or Vancouver. There are free bike valets onsite and free shuttles throughout Squamish.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get here,” she says.
There will be food trucks, live art creation and animated LED creatures roaming the grounds, as well as local crafts and artisan vendors, all in keeping with the Provincial Heath Office’s guidance at that time.
The amount of planning involved is stupendous, Tamara says in a way that made it seem like fun, like a labour of love: “It’s like creating a little city. It’s radio-like but it’s a step up from radio. It’s an incredible way to share music and community in person and face to face.”
When she launched 102.7 THE PEAK, it was supported by the powerhouse of Jim Pattison Media.
“This time, we had to obtain funding. We are supported by the Government of Canada and the Province of BC, FACTOR and, hopefully, the Music Festival Reopening Fund,” she said. “I am so grateful to live in this country!”
In any case, it’s an impressive accomplishment for three women to pull off on their own—especially in the midst of a pandemic.
Tamara continues to actively work as a voiceover artist, usually recording from her home studio, and now, thanks to technology, “from anywhere.” All her kids are artists, she said, so she started painting too. “I would do a lot more if I had the time. I love the ability to create—to let the paintings just emerge on canvas.”
Painting, producing and performing are all parts of who she is as a person and an artist. Tamara Stanners is someone who creates her own path.
“I feel like a fairly free spirit who is working toward my passion and goals.”