Coronavirus: Singer/songwriter Willa Amai reimagines 4 Non Blondes hit 'What's Up'

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A teenage singer/songwriter has mobilized her family, friends and fans from all around the world to create a video that expresses what young people like her are thinking during this stressful time of the coronavirus.

We first introduced you to Willa Amai last fall, when she completed an album that will be released when the pandemic subsides. Now, she's going viral with a remake of song that was a hit in 1993.

Amai has recorded her own version of "What's Up," which has special meaning because the single was originally recorded by her mentor, Linda Perry, when she was the lead singer of the band 4 Non Blondes.

The new video began as a commentary about school violence but instead became a look at what it's like to live during this unique time from a teenager's perspective.

The old tune is given new meaning by an artist determined to speak to her generation about what's happening in the world right now.

"I wanted to show what these important world messages mean to people our age," she said. "What it's like to grow-up in that world."

Over the last year, she has appeared onstage with Brandi Carlisle, matching the star note-for-note as few artists could.

For her new video, the 16-year-old recruited a couple of 18-year-old friends, Tyler Brown and Dexter Demme, to help her realize what she had in mind.

"We wanted it to feel very authentic," she said.

She reached out to friends and family, including her younger sister Harper, asking them to sing along.

"But also, I put something out on Instagram because I didn't want it to be just people that I knew," she said. "So I put a message out and said, 'Anybody who wants to be in it, just tell me and you're going to be in it.'"

Responses came from all over the world, which delighted Amai.

"People need music now more than ever," she said. "Music is a healing force. Music is what bonds us. It keeps us together. We are all very much separate, but I think music is the glue that can hold us together right now."

With that, the talented young star had to say goodbye. She was due elsewhere online -- in chemistry class.
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