Bobby van Jaarsveld, South African pop music superstar and chart-topping recording artist, will sing the local version of the theme song in the exciting new CG-animated children’s movie Thomas & Friends: Big World! Big Adventures! The Movie, officially launching in South African Ster Kinekor movie theatres on 5 October 2018.
The Big World Adventures theme song shares the message that we should be open to exploration; to traversing the globe, seeking out adventures, engaging with new and different people, and making new friends along the way.
Says Bobby: “This film resonates with me partly because my own friends are such a big part of my life. I feel much the same way as Thomas does about friendship: for me, the true meaning of friendship is acceptance.”
But this isn’t the only connection that Bobby feels with Thomas. He says: “For as long as I can remember, I’ve grown up with Thomas. Now, as a dad of three children (a 2-year-old daughter and two sons aged 5 and 6) I’m going to be the hero of the house just for taking them to see the movie. Once they realise I’m singing in it, we’ll be watching it the entire year.”
The 80-minute movie is the 13th feature-length film in the Thomas & Friends stable and is considered to be the brand’s biggest, boldest and most relevant release to date. It has an exciting plotline full of twists and turns, and seven new musical pieces that are bound to delight pre-schoolers and their parents.
In line with its quest to resonate strongly with the next generation, the movie introduces a diverse group of new friends – including Nia, an African tank engine from Kenya – and takes them on an epic global journey.
Voiced by Yvonne Grundy, a rising star of Kenyan descent, Nia is smart, fun and playful, with a strong moral compass. Her name pronounced Nee-Yah, means ‘purpose’ in Swahili; her engine design is based on the East African Railway’s ED1 class, and her exterior is inspired by iconic African textiles.
In building this character, Thomas & Friends’ first African female engine, Mattel, Inc. received input from the UN Woman’s African Programme Advisor on the portrayal of gender equality and female empowerment. This was part of a greater collaboration with the UN, with the goal of incorporating into Thomas & Friends five of its 17 Sustainability Development Goals.
A consultant from the Royal African Society also came on board to advise on cultural representation, including Nia’s scripting, animatics, and voice casting.
Says Bobby: “The involvement of a character from Africa adds an extra-special dimension to the story. I’m proud to know I’ve been involved in a film, with this kind of history and global reach, that’s working to represent diversity. Plus, my wife and I love Kenya, because we honeymooned there!”
Another new character, Ace, is voiced by Australian singer and entertainer Peter Andre, who says: “It’s incredible for me to help introduce young viewers to the range of cultures, ways of life and animals that exist on our planet. We have access to more countries than we did when Thomas started 73 years ago…so it’s nice to see that the whole world is part of this movie.”
Despite his 13 years in South Africa’s music industry, this is Bobby’s first collaboration of this nature. He adds: “It’s a dream come true. I chose to be part of this particular film because its morals and family values appealed so much to me.”
Bobby will attend the VIP premiere of the movie at Ster Kinekor Sandton, where the new South African version of the Big World Adventures theme song will officially be released. Afterward, fans will be able to download the song for free from Bobby’s official website: www.bobbyvanjaarsveld.com