Holly’s Story: Recording Music with Chris Funk of The Decemberists

Holly Bruno is passionate about her family and has the uncanny ability to find the good in most of life’s challenges. It’s a quality that’s come in handy when making the decision to end treatment for a rare form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma and simply live life to the fullest and love every minute of it.

When the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) met Holly years ago, she was quiet and shy, but coming from a family where music is an integral part of everyday life, she had a deep passion for singing.

During her time in the hospital, Holly’s musical skills were put to good use playing with the MyMusicRx team. In fact, she enjoyed it so much that she and her mom decided to perform in CCA’s annual Bedstock music festival.

Her song choice “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten went on to garner over 315K views on Facebook and most importantly, helped Holly find her voice.

Since Bedstock, Holly has grown into a courageous and inspiring young woman. She even has her own motto, “love is everywhere”. Her musical prowess continues to grow as she hones her voice and ukulele abilities.

So, it was no coincidence that when CCA Board Member and multi-instrumentalist for The Decemberists, Chris Funk, offered to host a recording session at his Halfling Studios, we instantly thought of Holly.

“I’m honored to be a CCA board member and proud of the work we do. I love music and have been fortunate to have a career doing what I love. It is truly amazing and a blessing when I can combine two things I adore.

When we brought Holly and her family into the studio for a day of recording, I was truly flabbergasted how a family could still laugh and sing and love life while staring down their daughter’s challenges in life, to pick up each day and carry on.

There are so many factors in the world to what ‘keeps us going’, especially when life hands you one of the worst cards you can get. Experiencing how music empowers this family to join in song and love, was an honor for me to share for an afternoon and reinforced the healing power of music.” -Chris Funk

Recording From the Studio

In total, 13 family members recorded music with an array of instruments, performing “Fight Song” and another of Holly’s favorites, “This Is My Song” by Mindy Gledhill.

As lead singer, Holly, was accompanied by her aunts, cousins, sisters, mom on piano and dad on guitar. Plus, Chris added his expertise on the electric bass. The experience meant the world to Holly and her close-knit family, providing them with a one-of-a-kind professional recording and mixing session.

Holly’s mother, Heidi, who also served as musical director, expressed her gratitude: “We had the most amazing experience as a member of the band The Decemberists invited us to their recording studio to record some of the songs Holly has sung over the past few years.

‘Fight Song’ was such an important part of Holly’s first battle with cancer. She sang it as part of Bedstock, sang it for thousands at a middle school and high school assembly for the Sparrow Club, sang it for her benefit concert (one of the most special nights of my life). The words fit her story so perfectly. He (Chris) gave his time and talents to capture her sweet voice and created a memory we will never forget.

She was tired and in pain when we first got there but it didn’t take long for her to be full of smiles. I am overcome by the amount of amazing, giving people we have met in this journey with cancer. Life is not easy but there is so so much good in it.”

Fight Song – The Bruno Family

(Video courtesy of Heidi Bruno)

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