May 1, 1965 – April 24, 2017
Susan A. Tanner, who devoted her life to promoting music and providing a venue and hospitality for numerous musical artists in her home in Eden, died April 24 in Mercy Hospital of complications from treatments for inflammatory breast cancer. She was 51.
Born in Jamestown, she was valedictorian of the Class of 1983 at Eden High School. Attending Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., on a full scholarship, she earned a bachelor’s degree in science. She also hosted a program on the campus radio station, WARC, and her acquaintances included Trent Reznor, who went on to form the industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails.
She started graduate studies in neuroanatomy at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, but left after a year to take a position with I.R.S. Records, then went to its parent company, Universal Records, in Boston, Mass., where she worked closely with the groups Teenage Fanclub and Nirvana.
Moving to the New York City area, she did promotion work for Shanachie Records and Bottom Line Records before returning to the Buffalo area in the mid 1990s.
Here she worked for several years in marketing for Righteous Babe Records, singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco’s label. More recently, she worked for Inside Sales Team, a sales and marketing company in Buffalo.
She was a frequent panelist at the South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, heading discussions on packaging, house concerts and Record Store Day.
Ms. Tanner also was a performer, singing with a choral group at Allegheny College, for several years with the Western New York Chorale and for a summer with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. As a vocalist and violinist, she recorded with the British indie band The Servants in the late 1980s. In recent years, she performed in sessions at Hi-Lo Studios in Eden with several local acts.
She and her husband of 11 years, local music guru Marty Boratin, who long has booked indie rock groups for Mohawk Place and other clubs, hosted a steady parade of touring artists in the home they built next door to her parents’ house in Eden, providing bed and breakfast and often a performance stage on their back porch or their living room.
The most recent was a house concert April 12 featuring singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel of American Music Club.
She also was active in the arts community and served as a volunteer for events at Hallwalls.
Hundreds of Facebook postings following her death paid tribute to her love of music, her support of the people who play it and her relentless pursuit of new therapies for cancer, which her husband said she viewed as “an adventure.”
“The scientist in her was always fascinated by the disease and treatment,” he noted, “and she had been trying to get into an immunotherapy trial in Boston.”
On Facebook, New York City-based singer-songwriter Rachael Sage wrote: “Early in my career Susan was a voice of insight when I needed assurance, and later, she was simply a solid, compassionate and brave friend whose observations and positive actions perpetually inspired others, even at the height of her own physical pain.”
In addition to her husband, survivors include her parents, Alan and Patricia; a sister, Paula Baldwin; and nieces.
A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. May 21 in Asbury Hall at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave.