Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson have traveled a long way in the decade since “MmmBop” hit the airwaves, and the most recent leg of their musical journey has taken them to Africa.
During the creation of their 2007 album “The Walk,” the brothers made several trips to Africa in an effort to better understand the poverty and disease that grips the continent.
In a recent telephone interview, Zac Hanson recalled a 2006 visit to Soweto, a destitute township outside Johannesburg, South Africa, where they met a chorus of middle school children with whom they recorded “Great Divide,” the second track on “The Walk.”
Singing in their native Zulu, the children chanted “Ngi ne themba,” which translates “I have hope.” At that moment, Zac could no longer distance himself from the truth of their circumstances.
“I think, as a way to protect yourself from the reality of the situation, sometimes you end up in denial,” Zac said. “But when we saw those kids singing the music we created, with the same passion and love of music we had at that age when we first started … something made me realize, this is just the same as the kids on the street in Tulsa, Okla. (his hometown), and I’ve got to do something.”
Hanson has taken up the cause with its music and will perform Sunday, Oct. 26, at the Chameleon Club on the East Coast leg of its Walk Around the World Tour.
As part of the tour, the band leads a one-mile, barefoot walk before each show to encourage their fans to join their cause. For each mile completed, the band will donate $1 to African relief efforts. To date, the band and its fans have racked up more than 7,000 miles. The goal: 24,902 miles, roughly the circumference of the Earth.
“If we can spend a moment and recognize what it’s like to have a basic need – a shirt on your back or shoes on your feet – then maybe when we finish our one-mile walk, we’ll have a better perspective,” Zac said. “We wanted to make sure people realize, the message isn’t just about shoes; it’s about what shoes represent.”
In addition to providing shoes and health care, Hanson supports building schools, drilling water wells and supplying cell phone minutes, which gives the sick more immediate access to doctors and emergency treatment.
Zac said it isn’t about having all the answers, but about using the talent you’ve got to make a difference. For the Hansons, that means making music.
“No matter what we do, music – even more than being brothers – is what keeps us together,” Zac said. “We are so privileged to do what we do, and we never take that for granted. I have the best job in the world. … I love my job, and I want to continue making music for a long time.”
Hanson will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, at the Chameleon Club, 223 N. Water St., in downtown Lancaster. Exact details for the preceding one-mile walk will be announced the day of the show at www.hanson.net. For ticket information, call 393-7133 or visit www.chameleonclub.net. To learn more about Hanson’s mission, or to host your own walk, visit www.takethewalk.net.
Credit: Kristy Buller, Correspondent