we will be there – we must be there.”
You’ve probably heard of founder Chef José Andrés, first rising to global attention for his work in Haiti’s disastrous 2010 earthquake. Now his organization is truly among the first and best of the world’s humanitarian rescue and aid organizations.
Read his origin story here, and give him two minutes of your time for this video:
They issue a simple yet profound message. Where people need food, we will be there. Reconstruction and recovery from disaster begins with people who are fed. Eat. We’ll be back tomorrow with more food until you can do it on your own.
Imagine how the global food crisis caused by Russia in Ukraine affects programs like this, making it hard to get the food they need to share with others.
Take a step deeper into it: imagine working in one of the World Central Kitchens and being struck by a Russian missile. Or being on one of their trains blown up? WCK is not just feeding people after the disaster. They are in the heart of the disaster, risking their lives every day to feed people.
June 15, 2022: Russian missile destroys World Central Kitchen train in Ukraine (2 minute news report)
Apr 18, 2022: Ukrainian restaurant partnering with World Central Kitchen hit by missile (2:40)
Please don’t skip over these. Look and listen. This is our world as it is. How do we build what it takes, internally as individuals and together as a society, to recover from it and make a better way?
Apr 8, 2022: World Central Kitchen’s CEO Narrowly Missed the Kramatorsk Bombing | Amanpour and Company (3:13)
Christiane Amanpour is one of the premier journalists of our time.
Apr 8, 2022: World Central Kitchen Ramps Up Response To Ukraine War (5:11)
Note that the founder of World Central Kitchen, Chef Andres, is ON THE GROUND IN THE WAR ZONE. The boss, getting down in the dirt and digging for hope to have an opportunity to feed people.
Hmm. I wonder if I would go half-way around the world into the worst war of my lifetime and feed people. For free. A volunteer.
YOU CAN HELP WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN — YOU CAN HELP UKRAINE AND COUNTLESS OTHER PLACES IN DESPERATE NEED OF YOUR HELP — HERE: https://donate.wck.org/give/236738/#!/donation/checkout
Try it. You’ll feel good.
At nine years old, Willa Amai began her journey writing songs about heartbreaks she had yet to experience, losses she had never felt, and social injustices she didn’t even know existed. With eclectic inspirations – from Regina Spektor records played during bath time to the poetry books her parents read to her – this Los Angeles native quickly amassed a body of work revealing lyrical complexity far beyond her years. She also created imaginative melodies, something she partly attributes to synesthesia (a neurological phenomenon in which one sense triggers the perception of another sense, like seeing letters and words as color).
I guess her “I Guess” is my favorite Willa original.
I wept the first time I heard it.
I have a grip on it now. I can listen with a smile.
A little broken, but I guess we all are.
She knows this about us, this teenager, this sign of hope in the world.
Listen closely. See what she says to you that is not in the words.
You’ll just have to listen very closely to the words (slow down the player speed in YouTube Settings if it helps), because I can’t find a text copy of the lyrics.
“I Guess” is a sort of reassurance for myself, if I’m honest. The song uses each verse to describe a different type of character I imagined in my head, all of whom had a beautiful exterior but broken interior. I use the choruses, then, to talk about how “we’re all a little broken”, and go in between reassurance that it’s normal to have cracks and ragged edges and describing characters I hope listeners can relate to.
The song also has the most pronounced acoustic guitar, which I felt was so fitting for the reality and tempered optimism the lyrics promote. I wanted there to be a sense of presence when people listen; as if, when you turn the song on, you’re instantly transported into the room with me.
Recording this song, even though it doesn’t sonically sound the most upbeat, makes me feel the most positively about the people and world around me.
… Since contributing the spellbinding “Scars” to the Served Like a Girl soundtrack in 2017, Willa has captivated audiences with songs like her stripped-back and beautiful cover of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, garnering over 6M YouTube views and over a million streams following its feature in a Cannes Lion and Clio Award-winning TV spot for QuickBooks. … Esquire Magazine calls her breathtaking rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” (recorded with Dolly for the talent-filled ‘Dumplin’ soundtrack) “truly exceptional, one of the few moments that an accompanying voice keeps up with Parton’s.” Parton also remarked that “It’s truly refreshing working with young talent like Willa”.
… Through the years, Willa broadened her sonic palette by taking up guitar and ukulele, self-recording all her material via her computer’s Photo Booth app. At 12-years-old, Amai met multi-platinum, Grammy Award-nominated producer Linda Perry (P!nk, Adele, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera), … When Willa showed up with 6 songs that were emotionally well past her years, Perry realized there was much more to this young musician and took her under her wing. Spending the next two years refining her craft, recording demos, expanding her songwriting, putting a band together, playing live, she signed with the label/publishing/management company Perry co-founded. In her cover of “What’s Up”, the smash-hit originally released by Linda Perry’s 4 Non-Blondes, Willa delivers a captivating rendition of the iconic song, adding a very relevant, modern meaning to “What’s going on!” Willa slowly and powerfully conveys the message of intolerance in the institution, a frustration that still resonates almost thirty years later. The music video was shot, styled, and directed by Willa’s peers, all no older than 18.
Amai recently performed live for Rock ‘N’ Relief, at Dodger Stadium in LA, with the Silversun Pickups, Miguel, Foo Fighters, and others. Amazon Music, Twitch, Rolling Stone and Comcast Cable live-streamed the benefit to millions for Sean Penn’s non-profit CORE, providing COVID testing and vaccines since 2020 without government aid. Amai is also an ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), advocating education, and helping NAMI expand a national mental health movement that builds better lives. [She speaks openly of her anxiety disorder.]
Then again, maybe this is my favorite Willa Amai song, for now.
Agh! She does SO remind me of someone who will never know it.
I Can Go To Bed Whenever is Willa’s eagerly awaited first album, produced by Perry and recorded in Los Angeles at Perry’s Greenleaf Studios. As she’s immersed herself in the making of this debut album, Willa has felt her songwriting expand and evolve. “There are so many little things that I never paid attention to before – like the space between words, and the power of silence,” she says. “Now that I’m aware of those things, it feels like my songs have more weight to them.” At the same time, she’s also kept up with the instinct-driven process behind her refreshingly unaffected songwriting. “When I’m writing it’s almost like I’m turning on a radio,” she says. “It might take a few songs to find a station that comes through, but once I do find it, it’s just right. It’s like the song already exists, and my job is to pull it out of the air and into the world.” For Willa, the act of bringing songs to life has always served a certain emotional purpose. “I feel like my mind is always going a mile a minute, and music’s like an escape from that – a way to slow down and breathe because time doesn’t move when I’m writing,”
“Time doesn’t move when I’m writing,” she says. Creativity rises from stillness and immersion. If more Americans could be still and immersed in nature, more often and for longer sessions, like artists they would reshape “the institution” and make a new and better world. Willa is in it, calling us to join the art of being.
It has been a pleasure to gather these thoughts, songs and information to introduce this new star. Thanks for being there to make it even more worthwhile.
Glory to Ukraine!