Hanson was born in Renton, Washington. He was the lead singer and guitarist of Christian rock band PFR from 1989 to 1997. After that, he started a solo career releasing three albums. PFR has also reunited and toured in several occassions.
Aside of his own career, Hanson is a prolific songwriter that has collaborated with artists like Geoff Moore, Sara Groves, and Phil Keaggy, among many others. In 2000, Hanson and Tony Wood wrote the song "The Longing", which was included in the Petra album Double Take.