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O’Hara senior makes mark in alternate music world

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TONAWANDA — Determined, committed, unwavering, persevering, a self-starter and go-getter are but a few words that describe Emily Lyman, a senior at Cardinal O’Hara High School.

As early as age 12, Emily followed alternative rock, music outside of the mainstream that includes punk, heavy metal and folk music.

She began researching and writing articles on the subject, but each time she sent in an article to be published, she was turned down.

“The excuses included that ‘I was too young’ and ‘too inexperienced’ to write about alternative rock,” Emily said. “But I am super into alternative rock.”

Instead of dampening her enthusiasm, the criticism made her more determined. By the time she joined O’Hara as a freshman, her mind was set on music journalism and she decided to start her own magazine, Haunted Publications.

Emily Lyman (left) and Cardinal O’Hara High School English teacher Lori Panaro look over two of the magazines published by Emily’s company, “Haunted Publications.” (Photo courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

She found five friends who shared her passion and together they published their first copy online, featuring 60 pages of articles and photographs.

Emily credits Erica Modlin of California for her assistance, Lou Dobson from England for his writing skills as well as Cardinal O’Hara English, religion and music teachers. “They all deserve all the praise in the world” she said.

By late in 2019, the group bulk-printed two more issues with the fourth under way.

Through social media, she established a fan base along with many who wanted to join her staff. She was determined to add only those whom she felt knew the music genre, would research stories and write well.

In her sophomore year at Cardinal O’Hara, Emily visited Sugar City, Rec Room and the Towne Ballroom in Buffalo where she met the artists, interviewed them then began connecting with private and alternate rock large show producers.

Emily decided to book and manage a show herself, but after it was booked, Covid-19 hit and it had to be rescheduled – four times.

“The day before that first show at Market Place, I was 16 and now, nearly 18, the show took place on Aug. 27. The Covid restrictions were hard,” Emily explained, “but finally I was able to have the show and sell tickets. Parents were admitted free.”

The final glitch was the night of the show and the headliner band did not show up.

“But, we had a fantastic start. We had 120 people, some from Cleveland, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania. It was the wildest night of my life,” she said.

Emily started booking bands, drawing up contracts for the groups and the venues, all the while keeping up on her studies at O’Hara and publishing her magazine. She also maintains her web page, “Haunted Publishing.”

“I have this kind of alternate life,” she explains simply. “One of my friends said I did all this out of spite. After all, everyone said I couldn’t do it, so I just did it. At one time, it became stressful as I going to school, doing shows and publishing a 66-page magazine.”

Emily has applied to 30 colleges that she has researched to find the right fit to major in sports and entertainment management.

“I’m a hard-working person,” she said. “I want things to go well and I’m super thankful. I’m also wary that one day, all this will be gone. I’m still new at this, but I’ve met contacts I never thought I’d meet. It’s a dream and I’m grateful and thankful people who have been so supportive.”

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