All aboard for Choo Choo Soul that will make a stop in Park City
Trains have been essential to Park City since the late 1800s and were used to ship coal from Coalville to fuel the pumps that removed water from the underground silver mines.
A new kind of train is planning a visit to Park City, and this time the cargo will be an energetic show full of songs and dancing.
Disney Junior’s "Choo Choo Soul with Genevieve!," The Parents Choice Award-winning live show, will make a stop at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 5 p.m. Conductor Genevieve Goings, who recently became the new host of Radio Disney Junior, will be accompanied by her partner in song and dance, Constantine "DC" Abramson.
"We are bringing the TV show to Park City and it’s as if the train has pulled up and parked on stage," Goings said during an interview with The Park Record. "We jump off and do a big sing-a-long and dance-a-long party."
As it is on TV, Goings is the singer and Abramson is a breakdancer and a beat-boxer.
"I like to say my brand is kids’ music with soul," Goings said with a laugh. "It’s so much fun, and not only for the kids, but for the parents as well."
One of the reasons is because the songs the duo performs are catchy.
"They all have a great rhythm to them," Goings said.
In addition to the original ‘Choo Choo Soul’ songs, the duo has remade some classic Disney songs.
"Those are really fun to sing together," she said. "That also makes it fun for the adults."
"Choo Choo Soul" has been on the air since 2006 and was created by video game developer Greg Johnson.
Goings met Johnson while she was doing voice-overs for his Xbox game "ToeJam & Earl: III Mission to Earth."
"I was voicing these gospel-singer characters and asked Greg why he was just having them talk and not sing," Goings said. "So I started singing the lines he had written."
That opened things up.
"Greg had so much fun with what I was dong that he ended up writing 10 pages of new dialogue with me singing," Goings said. "That’s when he was able to tell me about this idea he had.
"Greg’s son loved trains and he was trying to find a way to create an antidote for the less-than-awesome kids’ music that was out there," Goings said. "He told me he wanted to make a children’s CD."
The more Johnson talked, the more Goings like what she heard.
"His ideas were brilliant and we eventually went on to make the ‘Choo Choo Soul’ CD and sold it to Disney," Goings said. "We didn’t think it would be anything more than an audio project, but then Disney wanted to do something more."
The first episodes of "Choo Choo Soul" aired on the "Playhouse Disney" program in 2006.
"Now we’re on Disney Junior, which is a network unto its own for the little ones," Goings said. "It’s been amazing that I have had the opportunity to be the conductor after all these years."
Goings recruited her friend Abramson for the project.
"DC and I have been performing together for 10 years," she said. "We had a band called Legato together in the San Francisco Bay Area. So we know how to bring live energy and magic to a campfire setting with two kids or to a whole theater that’s filled with them."
Performing live is such a different experience for the performers, but also for the audience.
"The show is geared to appeal to 4- and 5-year-olds, and that age is so precious," Goings said. "They are used to seeing us on TV, so to see their reactions when they see us live is just so special."
Using music to uplift and educate is something Goings knew from her childhood.
"Music is a wonderful way to learn things because you memorize the lessons with patterns and rhythms," she said. "I mean, before you know it, you’ve learned something."
Goings also wants to show children how to overcome their insecurities.
"I grew up somewhat shy, which many people have a hard time believing now, but music was one of those things that allowed me to be a different person," she said. "It’s much easier to sing something than saying it."
She gives credit to her parents for introducing music to her at such a young age.
"They both were musicians, and showed me the power of music," she said. "In fact, my dad tours with us. He manages the show and runs our sound."
Goings said it’s also important for kids to see that there is good music out there designed especially for them.
She has even taken her role one step further and released an independent album called "Do You Know," which is available on iTunes and online at gogenevievego.com.
"The album is all about preschool fundamentals," she said.
In addition to the album and "Choo Choo Soul," Goings writes songs for the international market.
"I’ve written hundreds of children’s songs for Disney English, which is a Disney school in China that teaches English to their students through song," she said.
The big secret to reaching children through song or through performances is to connect with them through honesty.
"I think the reason that ‘Choo Choo Soul’ is so popular is because I didn’t worry about whether or not we were writing songs for children," she said. "Kids feel how genuine the music is. Kids know when people talk down or sing down to them."
Goings also knows that children can still tap into their imaginations, and that opens a lot of other doors.
"I feel like I have a giant canvas when I’m writing for kids and that’s the part I really love," she said. "I mean, we have a magical choo-choo train that can go under water and up into the sky and the kids won’t pull out their smartphones and tell us that what we pretend to do is not possible."
The Park City Institute will present Disney’s "Choo Choo Soul With Genevieve!" on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $30 and can be purchased by calling 435-655-3114 or visiting EcclesCenter.org. For more information about "Choo Choo Soul," visit Facebook.com/choochoosoul.
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