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One Oregon family harmonizes for the glory of God.
BY EDDIE O’NEILL
When it comes to musical talents, the Hanson
family has been blessed with quite a few. For close to 10 years, the Elmira,
Ore., family of seven children has entertained audiences with their angelic harmonies,
cowboy yodeling and good old-fashioned tunes from the great American songbook.
to Leslie and Wayne Hanson, music was a family value that was instilled from
I would tuck them into bed at night, I would sing one part to one and another
part to another, and they had already heard four-part harmonies from us having
been in the church choir,” Wayne recalls. “So each of them could carry their
own part singing next to somebody by the age of 3.”
the summer of 1999, the Hanson youngsters learned to yodel thanks to an
instructional tape that was given to them by a relative. A year later, after
seeing an entry form for the talent show at the Lane County (Ore.) Fair, Leslie
entered Daniel, 8, and Theresa, 10, to perform as a yodeling duet.
only did the duo win that first year — they made it all the way to the finals
at the state fair competition.
was the start of a several-year run where Leslie says her singing kids were on
a winning streak.
kids won everything Lane County had to offer,” Leslie says with a smile.
was also during this time that Wayne heard angelic singing coming from the
family kitchen. The Hanson girls Christa, Lisa and Theresa were working on some
music for church while washing the dishes.
just started crying because it sounded so beautiful with them singing
together,” he recalls. “I came in and said, ‘You girls have a special sound.
You need to keep doing this and sing as a group.’”
the help of David Philips, their choir director at St. Mary’s Catholic Church
in Eugene and creator of Gentle Spirit Music (GentleSpiritMusic.com), the girls
did just that. Philips gave the singing trio the name Seraphim.
approached Wayne with the idea of doing an album of some traditional Catholic
hymns and featuring the three girls singing, and I wanted to give them a name
that was recognizable” says Philips. “We batted around some names, and we came
up with the name Seraphim because they sing like angels.”
first CD was released in the fall of 2003. “O God of Loveliness” became a big
hit in Christian and Catholic bookstores across the nation. Phillips has gone
on to produce two more CDs with Seraphim.
has been quite impressed by the musical ability of not only the three Hanson
girls, but also with the talents of the whole family.
are just good people,” Phillips says. “Their musical abilities are pretty
pronounced; because they come from the same family, the timbre of their voices
is pretty nice.”
Winning Isn’t Everything
and Leslie make it clear to their children that whether they are singing
Christmas carols in December or competing at a gospel or harmony competition in
July, their mission is to honor God with their talent.
give them the ‘Mom soapbox talk’ on the way to our performances or the
competitions,” says Leslie. “I tell them: ‘We don’t care if you win. We just
want you to honor God and honor your family and your audience by dressing up modestly
family’s formal outfits for the guys include long-tail tuxedos, and the girls’
clothes have some ruffles and lace on them.
tells your audience that they are worth dressing up for,” says Leslie.
to Wayne, this family practice has changed a few hearts along the way. He notes
the numerous parents who comment to him that they wished their daughters would
dress like theirs.
think it means a lot to see a family working together and to see kids with
bright eyes and who are happy,” Leslie says.
the kids play in some varying degree a number of instruments: piano, guitar,
clarinet, accordion, fiddle and mandolin. Leslie says that has been the natural
consequence of two things: The family got rid of their television close to 30
years ago and began home schooling.
are together enough that we can do the music,” she says.
family is excited about its new CD of classic Western tunes entitled “My Best
to You,” which was released this past summer. According to Wayne, the 12-song
collection hopes to keep alive the good old classics of years past.
Hansons show no signs of slowing down. According to Dad, this year the family
will perform 45 to 50 shows, mainly in the Eugene area. However, the family is
no stranger to travel. Among other places, they have sung near Birmingham,
Ala., at Eternal Word Television Network, as well the McDonald’s Gospelfest in
Seattle and New York City.
looking back and reflecting on all that they have accomplished as a singing
crew, Wayne says it’s their kids’ perseverance and the gift of themselves that
he is most proud of.
am proud of the fact that our children are willing to join us as a family and
sing together and praise God and offer up their voices for his glory,” he says.
“That just touches my heart like nothing else.”
Eddie O’Neill writes from