Hanson asks fans to join walk for aid to Africa on Sunday

Posted On September 18, 2008

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The Hanson brothers have come a long way since the days when they wowed crowds of screaming girls with their 1997 hit, “MMMBop.” Now the grown brothers are hitting the road, barefoot, to raise awareness about poverty in Africa.

As part of their Walk Around the World Tour, the brothers are walking barefoot for a mile in each of the cities where they’re performing.

Isaac Hanson, 27, the eldest of the three brothers, said the band got the idea after visiting Soweto, South Africa, a few years ago to record the charity single, “Great Divide,” and seeing firsthand the toll that poverty and AIDS have taken on Africa.

“We thought, ‘We’re going on tour, how can we connect with fans?’ ” Isaac said. “We got this crazy idea that we would walk a mile in every city, and then we were like, ‘Wait a second, how about we walk barefoot so people will understand what it’s really like to walk in poverty?’ ”

Isaac said he and his brothers, whose latest album, The Walk, was released July 2007 are looking for fans to join them on their walk in Dallas on Sunday, which begins at 3 p.m. at the House of Blues. [correction: Walk begins 2pm at SMU – for details go to takethewalk.net]

The band started a “Take the Walk” tour in September 2007 but had to suspend it after Isaac had surgery because of a pulmonary embolism. Isaac said that after he recovered, he and his brothers decided to change the name of their tour and expand their efforts on a global level.

The ultimate goal, he said, is for fans worldwide to walk 24,902 miles – the circumference of the Earth. Fans can organize their own walks and register them online on Hanson’s Web site. For every registered mile, Hanson will donate $1 to one of five causes: shoes, clean water, building schools, supporting medical research and providing access to health care.

The band also has paired with California-based TOMS Shoes in hopes of delivering 50,000 pairs of shoes to Africa. For every pair of shoes bought at TOMS, store founder Blake Mycoskie will donate a pair of shoes to a child in Africa.

Isaac hopes younger fans in particular will participate in “The Walk Around the World” and feel motivated to create change.

“We feel that when the heartland of America grabs onto an issue and takes it and makes it their own, things change,” Isaac said. “When average people in America make something their issue, it has an enormous effect.”

To help promote further awareness about poverty and AIDS in Africa, the brothers have written a coffee-table book, Take the Walk, which is scheduled to come out later this year.

As for the band’s latest CD? It’s a blend, Isaac said, of Motown, the Doobie Brothers and Crosby, Stills & Nash. A bit different from the group’s “MMMBop” days.

“I think there’s a real pop sensibility to this record. You’ll find it to have a lot more of an organic raw edge to it,” Isaac said. “It’s definitely R&B influenced, and it’s got groove. It’s our attempt at making sense of our music.”

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