Genevieve Goings, Voiceover Artists, Singer/Songwriter of Children’s Music and Educator
By Ryan Traynor Editor-in-Chief
Genevieve Goings is a voiceover artist and singer/songwriter of children’s music that has used her talents in several unique ways – to bring music to autistic children, to educate preschoolers, and to motivate children to exercise. She is a lead entertainer in the kids’ market doing voiceovers, videos, webisodes and albums. She has recently added reading at the White House at the Easter Egg Roll and taking her “Choo Choo Soul – with Genevieve” music tour across America and Canada to her extensive work.
Born to musician parents, Genevieve began her recording career in Hip-Hop and R&B in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to performing, she began recording voice-over work for video game & toy companies such as The George Lucas Company, Hello Kitty, X-Box, and Leapfrog, leading her into working in children’s television. Through a connection she had with her voice-over work, she collaborated to create “Choo Choo Soul”, a high-energy music album that grew into a video segment that airs daily on Disney Channel’s “Disney Junior”. She is also the voice of both Radio Disney Junior as well as the Disney Junior Network (singing its theme song as well as various songs paired with original Disney animation).
The “Choo Choo Soul” series began airing in May of 2006 and has produced 23 videos to date. As the star of Playhouse Disney’s Choo Choo Soul, Genevieve portrays the Conductor, transporting kids to a magical musical world. Genevieve worked with Disney to bring “Choo Choo Soul” on the road for a live concert tour throughout America and Canada.
Genevieve contributed to over 65 albums, including her independent children’s album “Do You Know?” which teaches pre-schoolers everything from learning their telephone number to telling time, all by way of her unique brand of “Kids Music with Soul.”
Expanding her ability to educate youth, in 2008 Genevieve began working with Disney to teach English to children in schools in China. She has written over 100 songs for this project, as well as developing and producing an entire phonics program within it.
In the summer of 2012, Genevieve began working with Fisher-Price to update their “Little People” toy line. Originally approached to write a new theme song for the brand, her work with the Little People expanded as she wrote six original songs introducing each new character, voiced the Teacher, “Miss Hugg” in the new “Litte People Place” animated webseries, and scored/composed all of the music for the webisodes. The interactive iPad app features her music and voice as the narrator. She has also developed new music for the brand and also has scored an additional webseries for the Fisher-Price brand “Imaginext.”
Music can motivate children to learn and do many things. Genevieve proved this by developing “The Happy Hearts Club;” a fitness/exercise show for kids. Genevieve expanded the show into a community outreach organization, mentoring tweens to perform the HHC exercise moves for crowds of children ages 4-8. Through upbeat music, tweens learn leadership skills and kids learn the value of exercise.
In April 2015, Genevieve read “Green Eggs and Ham” at the White House Easter Egg Roll, and was asked to turn the pages for the First Lady Michelle Obama while she read her story.
While focusing primarily on Children’s Entertainment and education, Genevieve also continues to write R&B and Pop music for artists in LA as well as working with artists & children on vocal production and voice coaching.
AK: Did you always know that you were going to have a career in music? What influenced that decision?
GG: I’ve always loved children, but I had no idea I would end up focusing my whole career on them! I’m so glad that my journey has led me here, but I didn’t see it coming!
AK: How did your career migrate from an R&B/Soul artist career to being a children’s entertainer? How is the adult music market different than the kids’ market?
GG: I was doing voice-overs for video games in the San Francisco Bay Area, which ultimately led me to kids’ music. The adult music market is very saturated with a lot of artists, and while trying to be one of those artists, quite often you have to try really hard to be “cool” (haha)! What I mean by that is I have an amazing freedom in children’s music where I can be silly, nerdy, and completely adventurous in a way that I couldn’t while entertaining grown-ups. The other difference in the two markets is that with children’s music I actually have two layers of fans- the kids and the parents! I have to keep in mind that the parents will have to listen to my songs a lot, and try to make them enjoyable for the whole family!
AK: Where do you get the inspiration for the songs you write?
GG: I usually write my music based on a request from parents. When I was writing my album “Do You Know?” I asked my fans what topics they wanted songs to be about and a “Potty” song was the #1 request (haha)! I write my music because there is a need for it. I just look for what I feel is needed at the time! I wrote “My Telephone Number is,” (a song teaching kids their phone numbers) after meeting a little boy in a mall who had gotten separated from his mom and needed to find her.
AK: We are hearing more and more about how early brain development in preschoolers is influenced by how much they are read to and interacted with. How has your music been adapted to help children learn?
GG: I learned a great deal as a songwriter when working with Disney on their “Disney English” program; a school in China that teaches English. I wrote musical curriculum (lesson songs) for Disney English that utilized patterns, chants, and repeating phrases to help the students learn how to speak and remember. Repetition is key when helping anyone learn!
AK: How is performing for children different from performing for adults?
GG: Young kids don’t care where you live, how many Instagram followers you have, who you are dating or how much you weigh; they just want to be entertained. Kids want to hear music that makes them happy and empowered, and that they can instantly become a part of. I can’t think of a more willing “fan” than a child!! When you step on a stage to entertain an adult, they are quite often pretty judgmental and easily distracted.
AK: What personality traits make a good entertainer?
GG: Being genuine really helps. You’ve got to genuinely love what you are doing, and to believe in it 100%. Being confident is hard, but confidence is what you need! It’s not fun to watch someone perform when they are nervous! Being patient and consistent is also important. This business takes time, and you will have to put in a lot of hours and get a lot of experience to be the best artist that you can be.
AK: Can you describe the adaptations you made in your “Choo Choo Soul – with Genevieve” show that made it more enjoyable for those on the autism spectrum and others with sensory issues?
GG: We have added an option for our show to be “sensory-friendly,” where we lower the sound volume, tone down the flashing/moving lights, and allow folks to move around during the show. Walking through life with autism can sometimes mean that loud sounds actually hurt your ears, and flashing lights hurt your eyes. We want kids to be able to enjoy our live shows in whatever way is comfortable for them. We also do a more casual meet and greet after the show, where we let kids hang out with their parents wherever they are comfortable, and then we come to them (rather than everyone waiting in a big, loud line.)
AK: You’ve also done some charity work. Can you describe what you did and how you became involved with these activities?
GG: I am on the board of “Say Word,” an organization that brings spoken word poetry to underprivileged high schools. The power of turning feelings into poetry is helping these kids with some pretty incredible emotional breakthroughs! I have always been a fan of poetry and after sitting as a guest judge at a poetry event for Say Word students, I was hooked! These kids are amazing and I am so proud to be a part of it.
I am also affiliated with St. Jude in Memphis and the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford in Palo Alto, CA. With these wonderful organizations, I have shared many musical performances with the children and families.
AK: If you could tell your teenage-self something that would have helped you in your career, what would it be?
GG: DON’T PLUCK YOUR EYEBROWS (haha)! Just kidding— I am very proud of where I ended up, even though I’ve made mistakes along the way. I would tell my teenage-self to learn as much about the business of music as I did about how to create and perform. I would have told myself to learn about royalties and publishing, and to have an idea of what it really takes to have longevity in a career. As a teen, I just saw the flashy and “fun” aspects of music: performing, taking photos, signing autographs – but that is only a small part of the business! Opening my mailbox twelve years after the Choo Choo Soul album was released and finding a royalty check is an incredible thing! I also would tell my young self to ask more questions of other people doing what I wanted to do, and questions about how they got to where they are! Most people don’t mind sharing their story!
AK: Who has been a mentor that has influenced your career?
GG: Greg Johnson is the creator of Choo Choo Soul, and is a great friend. I met Greg when I auditioned for a voice on his video game, “ToeJam & Earl III, Mission to Earth.” Greg is a successful video game developer, but had this idea in his brain about a funky, cool CD for kids called “Choo Choo Soul.” I have seen Greg accomplish amazing things with huge companies, and always remain a genuine, great person. The best mentors teach by example and may not even know that they are a mentor! Greg has big ideas and there is no cap on his creativity. I strive to be the same way!
AK: We would like to thank Genevieve Goings for sharing her story and inspiring kids everywhere to learn more about their passions and to follow their dreams.