Grammy Award winning children’s artist Dan Zanes and Haitian-American vocalist and music therapist Claudia Eliaza present the freewheeling musical world of the Night Train 57, an engine powered by fifteen original singalongable songs. In this Sensory Friendly comic folk opera, the husband-wife duo are joined by Mexican percussionist Yuriana Sobrino on a collection of festive tunes played with an amazing array of diverse instruments, and of course their voices. This recording is intended to be enjoyed as a stand alone listening experience for families and early childhood educators as well as fans of the comic folk opera. Night Train 57 was significant in the Theater for Young Audiences genre in that it was the first entirely Sensory Friendly work to be commissioned by The Kennedy Center which for several years has been the leader in the movement towards greater accessibility. The show premiered in the Fall of 2017 and will be touring North America for the next several years. Claudia and Dan are at the forefront of the emerging Sensory Friendly movement which aims to help performing arts venues provide conditions that are welcoming to a variety of families, including those who have children with special needs. Night Train 57 is the 22nd release from Dan’s Festival Five Records, a label specializing in all-ages music for kids and kid sympathizers. The label’s first release was Rocket Ship Beach in 2000. For the past 2 years, in addition to Night Train 57 performances, Claudia and Dan have been performing as a duo – and sometimes a trio with Haitian jazz vocalist Pauline Jean – in venues large and small across America and Canada. In concert, their soulful take on family folk music includes selections from Lead Belly, Baby!, an award winning 2017 Smithsonian / Folkways release, as well as hits from Dan’s deep back catalog and, more recently, some traditional tunes from Claudia’s Haitian heritage.
I had the honor of speaking with Claudia and Dan about this project and how we all share the “inclusion is a cool thing” thinking. We get into how the songs were developed and nurtured by a new found toGetherness, and how the first experience of a sensory friendly event has left not only Claudia and Dan with a real satisfied feeling, but what it has shown to mean for the variety of people in attendance. Variety. Diversity. Everyone.
Performing Arts centers are catching on and I am sure the one closest to you does not want to feel left out, so share this concept, share this interview and share these people with them and hop on the Night Train 57 engine that can, for all.