Hedwig and the Angry Inch writer and star John Cameron Mitchell has released a new benefit solo album, New American Dream (Part One), now available at Bandcamp. A wide streaming release will follow. Watch the homemade video for the album's first single, "New American Dream," directed by Matthew ZanFagna and shot on an iPhone, above.
Mitchell collaborated on the two-part album with more than 40 people in the U.S. and Europe, including his Hedwig co-creator Stephen Trask, Hedwig musical director Justin Craig, and Head Over Heels and RuPaul's Drag Race star Peppermint.
According to press notes, the album "explores how a community of friends can use the raw resources of a challenged America and a threatened world to create empathy and justice through art and beauty."
Proceeds from the album, which was produced on a volunteer basis, benefit Burritos Not Bombs, a Mexico City food distribution program; Transgender Gender-Variant and Intersex Justice Project, a San Francisco-based non-profit that works to end human rights abuses against the trans community, particularly trans women of color in California prisons and detention centers; and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Trust Fund, a Connecticut-based college scholarship fund for African-American students in need.
Also working with Mitchell on New American Dream were Leland, Alynda Segarra, Ezra Furman, Julian Koster, Jamie Stewart, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Izae, Theo Hilton, Bitch, Lance Horne, Qya Cristál, Amber Martin, Peter Yanowitz, Billy Hough, and Cassie Watson.
The album's title track is also slated to be used in an animated PSA written by Mitchell and directed by Robin Frohardt for SpreadtheVote.org, encouraging young people to register as poll workers. This PSA is set to release September 8.
"New American Dream is a lockdown-inspired remotely-organized platonic musical orgy," says Mitchell. "The idea started in March during self-isolation in a 100-year-old stone hut near Palm Springs. Bored and depressed, I reached out to a variety of musical friends who sent me instrumental tracks which I could write melody and lyrics to—kind of like the Surrealist drawing game Exquisite Corpse. The album idea came as the songs piled up. I even contacted a stranger in the South of France, Izae, on Instagram because I liked his cover of a Hedwig song, and we ended up writing two songs for the album.
"Like the old story about the Stone Soup—where strangers throw whatever food item they possessed into a communal pot—old friends and new donated music, vocals, overdubs, mixing, mastering, video production, art, and publicity. Soon I realized we had a double album that could benefit the various charities that I’ve been helping through this dark time with Hedwig merch sales and Cameo videos. The whole experience has been such a comfort to us, and we hope others will feel it too and add to the pot for the benefit of those in need."
For more information, visit NewAmericanDreamMusic.com.