To children five and under, Genevieve Goings is simply irresistible. The star of Disney Junior’s “Choo Choo Soul,” Goings has made her mark as the effervescent conductor, breathing new life into Disney classics such as “Bare Necessities” and creating some much-loved originals of her own through Do You Know?, her solo album for preschoolers. Goings is also the superstar host of Radio Disney (she sings the theme song to boot) and is focusing on special performances throughout the Choo Choo Soul live concert tour.
As part of her extensive touring for “Choo Choo Soul,” Goings realized the very real need for—and benefits of—performances designed for those who have been diagnosed with autism and other disorders. Committed to delivering the best live music experience to her young audience, Goings has begun adding particular elements to her performances to create special sensory-friendly shows.
Goings continues to find ways to enhance the magic of childhood, leaving long lasting impressions on her audience. I was happy to have had a chance to chat with Goings and learn more about these sensory-friendly performances and what is on the fashion horizon for her. (Hint: Yes, those seriously sweet neckties are included!)
Kids Can Groove: Choo Choo Soul is built on beats and dancing. How do you feel kids respond to R&B and Hip Hop music?
Genevieve Goings: Kids love rhythm and patterns, and hip-hop & R&B use a lot of patterns that work well for them. I think kids have a natural urge to dance and sometimes stronger, more prominent beats really help them let loose and have fun!
KCG: Do you feel that all children can benefit from seeing live music? How?
GG: I most certainly do! Music is a release, and it brings people together. Children love to be a part of something, and with a live concert, they can! There are so many things going on at a live show that it takes the entertainment experience to a new level. Kids can see live performers, lights, dancing, other children, and more! I believe that seeing a live show opens up a child’s mind by involving them in the act of making music.
KCG: When did you first realize the need for sensory-friendly types of performances? Was there something in particular that really prompted you to move forward with them?
GG: I have always known that there was a need for these types of shows, but I really understood the importance of them at the first sensory-friendly show that we did. It really is hard to imagine what it can do until you really host one, and see it.
There are so many families that have children on the autism spectrum who have stress every time they leave the house. They have to worry about how their child will react to the world, and how the world will react to their child. They need, just as every family does, a place to go and have fun as a family. These shows are special because they don’t need to explain or worry about being judged while they enjoy something comfortable for their child. The thankfulness from the parents was so genuine and touching.
KCG: Are there particular songs or styles of music that work best in a sensory friendly environment?
GG: I think that any style can work in a sensory-friendly environment, since it’s not the content that is sometimes a problem; it’s the way it’s delivered. With a sound-sensitive child, they need the music to be at a lower volume, possibly with the higher frequencies turned down as well. With that being said, any musical style can be enjoyed, as long as it isn’t hurting their ears!
KCG: What can audience members expect from sensory friendly shows?
GG: At a sensory-friendly show, you can expect to have the lights in the theatre seating area on at about a 40% level throughout the entire show. This way, everyone can see where he or she is walking and won’t be in complete darkness at any point during the performance. The lighting on stage will be bright, but “moving” or “strobe lights” will not be a part of the show. At a sensory-friendly show, the volume level will by lower as well, and we encourage the crowd to feel free to move around or even talk during the performance.
KCG: What have you learned about your young audience from doing sensory-friendly shows versus regular performances? Has that had any impact on how you approach your regular performances or on you as a performer?
GG: I have learned that everyone wants to be happy, find joy, and have fun with their family. I have also learned that as much as we all want the same things, we all receive information and enjoy certain things in our own individual ways. What sounds great to one person may sound different to another. As a performer and creator, it will always be my job to deliver music in the best way that I can: to be enjoyed by all. I have learned that this is a work in progress, and I will be learning forever! I am certainly up for the task.
KCG: Are you doing sensory friendly shows as “Choo Choo Soul” or as Genevieve for your solo album (or a mix of both)?
GG: So far we have only done Sensory-friendly shows as Choo Choo Soul, but there will be shows for both in the future! This really needs to be a joint effort by both the artists and the venues.
KCG: You currently appear in Radio Disney Junior. Tell us about your role there.
GG: I am the host of Radio Disney Junior, which is on the Radio Disney Junior app. This app is a place for music lovers that also love Disney Junior!! We have created a new series for the app called “Rhythm & Rhyme Time,” where we play musical games and learn musical lessons! Kids can watch videos, play games, and listen to music on a radio station that is hosted by me! I am so excited about this, because I have been a part of it since it began, and I have a lot of input into the content. I live and breathe Pre-school music, so I am right where I want to be with Radio Disney Junior!
I also do voice-overs for Radio Disney Junior. I record little blurbs for the station and create fun imaginary environments for the station. For example, I could record something like, ‘Lets ride on the roller coaster!!!!! Put your hands up!! Let’s go (with the sound of a roller coaster, suggesting that we are really riding one)!! I also do voice-overs for Disney Junior the Channel, by narrating cooking recipes or singing Holiday songs!
KCG: How does radio compare to Disney TV work?
GG: Radio is so much fun because no one can see the faces you are making (haha)!! I love to get really into what I am recording and make it sound really fun for the kids listening. I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in entertainment to try voice-overs and radio.
KCG: Can we still find you on TV?
GG: Yes, Disney Junior still airs Choo Choo Soul in between programming! You also can hear my voice all day long on Disney Junior, singing songs about setting the table, taking naps, and more!
KCG: What’s next for you? Any exciting projects you’d like to talk about?
GG: Right now I am very excited about the new videos for the Radio Disney Junior app that I co-produced. I also have my own clothing accessory line for kids coming out for the Holidays!! Troy James – The Genevieve Goings Collection will have bow ties, neckties, and suspenders sets coming out exclusively on http://www.walmart.com! I am also in the beginning phases of creating a performing arts camp for kids.
Learn more about Genevieve through her official site.