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New Jersey High School Student Plays “Amazing Grace” In Tribute to Those Lost to Coronavirus

by Akemi Tamanaha, Associate Editor

A New Jersey high school student recorded herself playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes to honor those who have died from COVID-19 and those who are working to fight the pandemic.

Marissa Yee, a 16-year-old high school student from Eastampton, New Jersey hopes her rendition of “Amazing Grace” will help those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 heal. She spoke with AsAmNews about her tribute.

Marissa was in the middle of the second semester of her junior year at Rancocas Valley High School in Mount Holly when stay-at-home orders were put in place. She felt lost at first with less to do now that she wasn’t in school. It was difficult to see all the hard work she had been done not come to fruition.

She says her mindset changed when she began “thinking about everyone else.” She started watching the news to learn more about the devastating impact the coronavirus was having on the communities around her.

“It was quite a sobering thought to think that I’m here complaining about how my year has been ruined when people are out their struggling and fighting for people’s lives,” Marissa said.

She decided to use her time to create a healing musical tribute for those who had lost loved ones to COVID-19.

“I just thought if I could bring a little more happiness and joy to the people that are doing the heavy lifting here it would be so great,” Marissa said.

When Marissa was in the sixth grade, her mother, Kayce Yee, suggested that she try playing the bagpipes. Marissa already excelled at piano and violin. The bagpipes were something different.

Kayce Yee encouraged her to learn “Amazing Grace” because it was such “an iconic song.” She thought the song would make a fitting tribute.

“I was very proud that she did do it,” Kayce Yee said.

Asian Americans have been the victims of racist verbal and physical attacks. Marissa said a part of her was nervous to post the video. She feared people would post hateful comments in response.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Marissa said it “warmed [her] heart” to see people come together for a “positive experience in a time of darkness.” A kind comment from a man in Scotland, who praised her bagpipe playing, had a particular impact on Marissa. She said it was nice to see a “global response.”

Marissa has not planned any further tributes, but she is open to working on other efforts to pay tribute to frontline workers and to those who have lost their lives.

“I hope that I can do something further to bring even more healing to people,” Marissa said.

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