Singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson says his most recent single “Headphones,” is about how much music enriches his life on a daily basis and how it means everything to him.
When he was planning the video for the song, he thought it would be a great idea to use the money the studio gave him and put it toward buy hearing aids for people who cannot afford them or don’t have access to them.
Nathanson teamed up with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a Minnesota-based non-profit group, and in September went on a two-day trip to Huancayo, a small city in central Peru, to help distributing hearing aids to people there. The experience – and the ultimate music video – was more than he ever thought possible.
“It’s hard to describe,” Nathanson told Fox News Latino. “It was incredible.”
The Massachusetts native said that he felt a lot of trepidation leading up to the trip. He does not speak Spanish and was afraid that he wouldn't be able to connect with the people he was trying to help.
But once he got to the site and got to work, Nathanson said it all clicked.
“To me, hearing is the only thing that matters and being tactile and touching their faces and being with them,” he said. “It was really heavy, in an unbelievable way.”
“Feeling their energy – some people were fearful, some were psyched, others were stoic – but as soon as they could hear … it was way more life-altering than I thought,” he continued.
Over the 48 hours he spent in Huancayo, Nathanson and the Foundation fitted 1,000 hearing aids and aftercare to those in need.
Nathanson said there are several reactions from people that are lodged in his mind – two of which made it into the music video.
“An older woman – she was so charismatic. She lit up the whole place. She got up and danced and sang,” he said.
The other was a little boy – maybe 4 or 5 years old – who had Down syndrome.
“There was this incredible moment when he looked at me with tears, grabbed my shirt and kissed me right on the lips,” Nathanson remembered. “At that point I was like, ‘Take me home. I’m in. I want to help you.’ I lost it.”
The experience, Nathanson said, brought home for him the idea that people are truly global citizens and that people are connected, no matter the distance.
“It shifted my outlook on the world,” he said. “It was a revolutionary experience.”
Keeping in the spirit of the video and the mission, 100 percent of the proceeds from the video will go to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, including both Nathanson and his label’s portions.
Inspired, the singer-songwriter can’t wait to once again get involved on another mission with the foundation.
“On the last day, I thought ‘we are just getting started, why am I leaving?’” he said. “I got to do it again.”