Australian Writer/Director and Dead Poets Society Actor Team Up for Powerful Music Video Highlighting Gun Violence Against Children Ahead of US Midterm Elections.
Award-winning Australian writer/director, Aminah Hughes, and American actor, Dylan Kussman (Jack Reacher, Dead Poets Society, Richard Jewell, The Mule) share a passion for storytelling.
Both songwriters and musicians, they were deeply touched by the recent tragic mass shooting events in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Orange County. In the midst of a debate that is often heated with anger, these two creative artists wanted to respond to these events in a way that would honor the families of the victims – the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters of those were so suddenly and mercilessly taken – by simply holding space for grief.
The result is “What Are We Fighting For (If It Ain’t Love)?” A soulful duet written from the perspective of parents who have lost a child to gun violence, the song offers heartbreaking lyrics and warm harmonies, while the video sees the characters moving through the five stages of grief as they battle their emotions and find their way back to one another. Filmed in a recording studio in East Los Angeles, converted into a black-box theatre setting, the project draws attention to the CDC’s recent determination that firearms are now the number one cause of death for children in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle deaths and those caused by other injuries (even though they rank no higher than fifth in other industrialized nations).
Born from empathy and love, this project is a testament to what happens when two passionate artists join forces. It is a call for all who care about this issue to vote for pro-commonsense gun reform candidates in the upcoming November 8 midterm elections. And it is an offering to the families who are suffering, to give voice to those who need their voices heard now more than ever.
“As an immigrant to this country, I don’t have the right to vote. But I do have a voice and I do have a platform and I care deeply about this issue. Our votes carry weight. They have the power to enact real change. I encourage everybody who has the right to vote in this country to use that power to take a stand.” – Aminah Hughes
“The heartbreak of loved ones who have lost children to gun violence in this country is worthy of our attention, our empathy, and our respect. Aminah and I couldn’t conceive of any other way to honor it than with a song, an art form that has the power to express the inexpressible. We encourage people to register to vote and be aware of their chosen candidate’s stance on gun reform legislation.” – Dylan Kussman
Released on Hughes’ label, Blue Wolf Records and distributed worldwide by MGM Distribution “What Are We Fighting For (If It Ain’t Love)?” was released on September 23, with the video premiering on YouTube and the song available on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Tidal, Pandora and Deezer.
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FULL VIDEO: What Are We Fighting For (If It Ain’t Love)?
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BTS PHOTOGRAPHY (BY CORI KIM)
AMINAH HUGHES: SHORT BIO
Hailed by Musical Notes Global (New York) as “a true Renaissance woman” Aminah Hughes has won local and international awards as a musician, producer, screenwriter, director and photographer.
An Australian roots artist playing somewhere in between the worlds of folk, alt. country, blues, jazz and spoken word, Aminah is a seasoned performer in Australia and Europe. She performed in the Sydney Opera House at the age of sixteen and has shared stages with Tommy Emmanuel, Declan O’Rourke, KILA, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Waterboys fiddler Steve Wickham. She has appeared on Irish TV, RTÉ and BBC Radio and performed with various orchestras both as a vocalist and flautist.
She appeared on 11 albums in Australia and Ireland, including albums by Australia’s Shane Howard, Ireland’s Martin O’Connor Band and European folk-fusion outfit No Crows, before producing her debut solo album, Blue Wooden Boat. Recorded in Ireland, USA, Australia and Germany, the album features special guest Emmanuel, Wickham and Nashville gospel singers, The McCrary Sisters, and has earned her a number of accolades including two wins and a nomination at the Independent Music Awards in New York. The album was produced on Aminah’s independent label Blue Wolf Records and is distributed worldwide by MGM Distribution.
In 2019 Aminah established Sky Woman Productions. Her music videos have premiered in Nashville, New York and Melbourne, received awards in Australia and New York and gone on to screen in festivals in Berlin, Prague, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, London, Toronto, Manchester and Melbourne. Her screenplays have gained recognition in Austin, LA, New York, UK, Australia and Italy and demonstrate Aminah’s diverse approach to storytelling. With a feature screenplay in development, she is currently in post-production on short drama, SOLACE.
In 2021 Aminah immigrated to the US. Her piece about moving to Los Angeles remains the most-read article in Pipeline Artists Magazine. Read it HERE.
“A gorgeous emotional journey…Hughes demonstrates powerful vulnerability…enhanced by stunning, soulful vocals…not only does Blue Wooden Boat have something for everyone but it will open and heal those parts of your heart that need it most.” – Musical Notes Global (New York)
“Where heartbreak and struggle blur into uplifting gospel – a perfect song for healing.” – American Songwriter Magazine (Nashville)
“A strong, soulful singer… evocative of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell” – All About Jazz
“A hint of Eva Cassidy’s vocal versatility and interpretive powers…(Aminah’s) own songs of nature and self-examination enchant” – The Weekend Australian
“Nothing short of spectacular…a song cycle that will have enduring appeal” – Around the Sound magazine
“A wonderful ability to invoke realms of magic and beauty.” – Scenestr
“Trying to pin down what this singer can do with her voice is hard because she can do some amazing things. She can belt out a roof-raising blues tune just as readily as she can deliver a folk tune sweet enough to make you cry.” – ABC Radio
DYLAN KUSSMAN: SHORT BIO
Longtime professional actor, screenwriter and film director Dylan Kussman got his big film break as Richard Cameron in 1989’s Dead Poets Society. He has since appeared in numerous feature films, including Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, Jack Reacher, Flight, X2, The Way of the Gun, The Mule and Richard Jewell, and has worked alongside such cinematic luminaries as Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Hugh Jackman, Benicio Del Toro, Brian Cox, Kathy Bates, James Caan, Alfre Woodard, and the late Robin Williams.
His television acting credits include The X Files, Monk, House, Drop Dead Diva and many others. A member of the Writers Guild of America since 2005, he shares screenplay credit on 2017’s The Mummy starring Cruise, for whom he also worked as a production writer on Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation and Mission: Impossible — Fallout.
Dylan recently directed his first full-length feature, 2016’s Wrestling Jerusalem, and is the writer, director and star of the award-winning
Web series The Steps.
A singer, songwriter and music industry veteran of over 31 years, Dylan released the 10-song Unemployed On This Asteroid in 2005, which served as his introduction to an online audience. His honest, soul-baring vocals are evident on his two latest singles, “Sailor” and “Beulah,” each song and accompanying video a heartfelt tribute, the first to his hometown Southern California coastline, the second to the city of New Orleans and the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. He is based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
PRAISE FOR WRESTLING JERUSALEM:
“Breathtaking…sweeping yet personal.” – The Washington Post
“The stories in Wrestling Jerusalem help to humanize issues too often spoken of in terms of land and politics.” – The New York Times
“WRESTLING JERUSALEM surmounts the exponentially tangled paradox of the occupation, exploring a gradient swath of personal perspectives, all the while remaining accessible and accommodating to those outside looking inward.” – Film Threat
“Always fascinating… a tour-de-force for the actor/writer, but one made all the better due to its director.” – San Jose Mercury News