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Alumni launch Boston Strong music mix

Emersonians continue to help the community move forward from the Boston Marathon attacks with the release of the Boston Strong Music Project—a digital mix of original songs by local artists to raise money for The One Fund.

Forty-one musical groups perform on the digital mix, including Amanda Palmer, the well-known alternative rocker who found success in the bands The Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn before embarking on a solo career. Palmer contributes with her song “Massachusetts Avenue.”


Musician Amanda Palmer (Photo from

“I think it’s cool for someone with that much fame … to want to participate in something like this,” said Isabel Thottam ’13, who runs the startup venture Hold On Another Day with Emily Smith ’12, which released the songs for download on June 3.

Thottam and Smith borrowed the words “Boston Strong” from Emerson students Chris Dobens ’16 and Nicholas Reynolds ’14, who coined the extraordinarily popular phrase within hours of the April 15 attacks by placing it on T-shirts that have raised more than $883,000 for The One Fund as of June 5.

Thottam said one of her favorite songs from the music mix is “Boston Sunrise” by Christian McNeil, who won Male Vocalist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards in 2011 and 2012.

“The lyrics say the city is good to you, so when are you going to be good to yourself?” Thottam said. “It reminds me of why we did this project. We live in a great city where everyone is coming together, but it’s also important to take care of our personal and emotional well-being.”

The mix is the third for Hold On Another Day, which created two other uplifting original song mixes in the past year to raise money for soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and teenagers dealing with bullying.

All of the musicians and people working behind the scenes for the latest mix did so on a volunteer basis, said Thottam, who added that Emerson’s WERS-FM donated studio space for musicians to record.

Thottam, a native of Canton, Ohio, said Hold On Another Day began in 2010 when she started making mix CDs for people dealing with depression.

“It’s bringing together two of my biggest passions: music and helping people,” she said.

Smith, Thottam

Emily Smith '12 and Isabel Thottam '13 launched Hold On Another Day

Thottam regularly volunteers with the suicide prevention group Samaritans and ran the 2012 Boston Marathon, which is why she immediately reached out to local artists after this year’s attacks.

“It was definitely devastating. It’s supposed to be such a positive event,” she said.

The mix is being sold on Hold On Another Day’s website on a “pay what you can” basis with a minimum contribution of $1.

“The point of our CD is to promote music as a form of coping during rough situations,” Thottam said. “We didn’t want it to be inaccessible to anyone.”

About 98 percent of the proceeds will go to The One Fund, and about 2 percent goes to PayPal, according to Thottam.

Both she and Smith, of Hanson, Massachusetts, were Visual and Media Arts majors who got help launching Hold On Another Day from Senior Executive-In-Residence Karl Baehr, who teaches entrepreneurial studies for the Department of Marketing Communication, and oversees the popular Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship (E3) Exposition.

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