Article: Nineties Sensation Takes "The Walk"

By | October 26, 2008

Remember Hanson? Here’s a clue: MmmBop.

That’s right, the three brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma who exploded onto the music scene in 1997, when they were mere lads, with a pop song so catchy that now, after 11 years, I can still remember it as well as my own phone number.

If you’re not a teenage girl, nor were you one in the late Nineties, you might think Hanson simply evaporated like so many teen sensations do after their 15 minutes of fame have passed.

But you’d be wrong. They may have grown up, but they aren’t retired. In July, 2007, the three Hanson brothers — Isaac, Taylor, and Zac — released a new studio album, The Walk, and with it, they launched a concerted effort to raise awareness and funds to curb poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa. Now in its second year, “Take The Walk” has traveled around the world.

Prior to each concert of the tour, which began in September last year, the Hansons lead their fans on a mile-long walk — shoes are optional. For each person who walks, the band donates one dollar to improving the quality of life in Africa, from drilling wells to building hospitals and feeding people. This fall alone, Taylor Hanson says between the band’s own pre-concert walks and those organized independently, about 9,000 miles of pavement have been traversed. And as you know, that kind of cash can go pretty far in an impoverished continent.

Thumbnail image for Z_barefoot with bull horn-1.JPGTaylor Hanson, of the longish blond hair and boyish looks, both of which have caused more than a few girls to swoon, says the idea began around 2006, when he and his brothers went to Africa for the first time. Inspired by a company in their hometown that uses cell phones and the Web to connect doctors and patients, Docvia, they realized the same idea could be of tremendous use in Africa.

“We have to start using what we have,” Taylor says. “The needs are there, especially with AIDS, but also with poverty and the children who are struggling with those issues. And with technology the way it is now, there are so many ways for us to go direct, to go one-on-one.”

While The Walk may be relatively new, Taylor says he and his brothers have long supported charitable causes. “It’s hard for me, when I see things clearly, not to act on it,” he says, adding that Hanson’s popularity as a band could be used as leverage. “We realized that we could speak honestly and not just be a bunch of talking heads.”

The walks have grown in number, from just 100 fans or so at first, to as many as a thousand in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles. On Monday, Hanson led a walk through Midtown before the band’s concert at the Nokia Theater in Times Square, and many more are scheduled this fall.

Lest you think that Hanson isn’t really behind this, but rather a boardroom full of suits scheming new ways to make money and using the three brothers as pawns, this is the real deal. Now fully independent — Hanson even has its own label — the brothers are sincere, and this effort is truly grassroots.

As Taylor sees it, small, community-based efforts is the way to get things done now, and to do it with high-technology. “We’re trying to activate individuals,” he says. “There’s no reason the Facebook world can’t help create positive change.”

Source (2 photos at source)

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