Richmond singing legend, Sibel Thrasher, passes away

One of Richmond’s most talented performers, Sibel Thrasher, has died, age 67.

Born Dec. 12, 1952 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thrasher, who passed away last Thursday, April 9, began performing professionally at the tender age of six, before making her name in the world of jazz and R&B.

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She recorded in New York with legendary artist Roy Ayers, and in Canada with the late Long John Baldry and Linton Garner.

Along with performing with the Platters (a vocal doo wop group from Los Angeles) in the U.S.A., Japan and the Philippines, Thrasher travelled as a jazz and R&B singer in the cruise ship industry.

She originally came to B.C. to appear alongside The Platters in 1981 and never left.

“I just fell in love with B.C.," Thrasher told the Richmond News back in 2011.

She also traveled to New York to record with a group called RAMP. The band toured Washington and performed in New York City's Central Park and in London, England in November 2007.

Along with her stage and musical achievements, Thrasher starred in movie, television and commercial productions.

In 2005, she performed in Fierce People, starring Donald Sutherland and Diane Lane, an experience she said was "a career highlight."

Thrasher also found time to volunteer at a number of fundraising events in Richmond and across the Lower Mainland.

Indeed, it was her willingness to help that forged a friendship with Richmondite and community advocate De Whalen in about 2011, who was then the president of the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre.

“I gave her a call to see if she could help us out,” recalled Whalen, referring to the centre’s upcoming 35th anniversary fundraiser, which had a Great Gatsby, Roarin’ Twenties theme.

“She was only too glad to help and she continued to support the centre for many years to come. She was a lovely, lovely woman with such a big heart.”

Whalen said they quickly became friends, adding that you “knew you could always depend on her.”

Case in point for Whalen was one Sunday afternoon in Garden City Park, when an eagle-eyed Mountie noticed in the parking lot that the licence plate on Whalen’s car had long expired.

“I was horrified and said I’d get it sorted straight away,” explained Whalen.

“He said I wasn’t driving anywhere and pointed out I had three hours before I’d get a ticket. It could have been an Easter Sunday, I’m not sure, but there were not many options. I was stuck.

“Then, out of the blue, Sibel called. I told her my predicament and she said she’d be right there as she lived close by.

“It was a Sunday afternoon, but she was all dressed up in her velour suit, her nails done, her extensions in. She took me to the mall and waited until I’d got my licence renewed.

“That day just about summed her up. I’ve called her my guardian angel ever since.
Whalen said she had seen her around town off and on over the years and remembered how she needed help to get on stage about two years ago.

“She said she was having trouble with her lungs…she was quite frail.”

In August 2004, Thrasher was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame.

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