BY LISA CIPRIANO
Start with the Motown years, add some Mariah Carey, a dash of Whitney Houston and a helping of Elton John, mix it up and you have D’Town Rewind.
D’Town Rewind is a self-described, “charismatic and energetic 80’s and Motown cover band” that will take you back to a time when life seemed more simple and fun. It consists of two professionally trained musicians: singer and dancer, Jenelle Faranso and keyboardist and producer, Omar Binno.
The D in D’Town stands for Detroit (of course) and that’s where the band’s founder Binno was born, during the era of the timeless tunes that he now plays. He started playing music at just 5-years-old.
“I started out on one of those little electric pianos that you could get for like $50 at K-Mart,” Binno explained. “I was able to hear songs on commercials, Christmas songs and simple songs from school, and play the melody.”
Born blind, his natural talent surprised his parents. However, they eventually decided to enroll him in formal piano lessons, where teachers discovered Binno had what is considered a rare ability — perfect pitch. It’s described as the ability to hear, instantly recognize, and recreate the pitch of any note.
His skill impressed, and sometimes concerned, his friends. “They were in awe,” said Binno. “I could identify the tones of the numbers that people were pressing on the phone. My friends started becoming more cautious when they typed in their voicemail passwords, because I could recognize the numbers.”
Jenelle Faranso, his musical partner and vocalist, also discovered her talent at a young age. She started singing, dancing and entertaining the family as a toddler. “Since I can remember, I’ve always had this in my blood and part of my soul,” Faranso said. “I was the entertainer of the family. It was my thing. I’ve always been very passionate when it comes to music.”
So much so that Souriya Denha, Faranso’s grandmother, immediately recognized her talent and encouraged Faranso’s mother to enroll her in voice lessons at the age of six. Tap, jazz and ballet lessons soon followed. Not long after that, Souriya suggested that Faranso get involved in professional plays where she would discover her love of musicals. At the young age of 11, she sang at her first wedding ceremony. In her early 20’s, Faranso auditioned for and was accepted to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) located in Broadway, New York. It was a decision her late father Robert encouraged.
Musical powerhouses Faranso and Binno connected about 13 years ago and they both credit the Chaldean News. In one of the very first issues, Binno wrote an article about Middle Eastern music that struck a chord with Faranso. “I was so moved and inspired by his article that I thought, I have to get ahold of this guy,” said Faranso.
She knew right away that they were kindred spirits when it came to their passion and love of music. “He was somebody in the Chaldean community that I could connect with,” Faranso added. She called the Chaldean News, got his number, and contacted Binno immediately. The two teamed-up and began writing and composing together. Eventually, they started performing at wedding ceremonies, receptions and other events prior to Faranso going away to attend the AMDA. While Faranso was away, Binno continued on with his with original work and performed live with various other musicians before taking a hiatus.
Their mutual love of Motown and 70’s, 80s pop music eventually brought Binno and Faransco back together for good in 2016. For a while, Binno had the idea to perform his beloved 70’s and 80s music mixed with current hits. In order to attract an even larger audience, he thought it would also be a good idea to include dinner music from artists like Sinatra.
He knew of just the perfect singer, dancer and all-around performer to fulfill his vision — Jenelle Faranso. And, that’s when D’Town Rewind was born. “The name of the band is really catchy,” explained Binno. “A lot of people like it.”
Their first gig as D’Town Rewind was at this year’s Chaldean American Ladies of Charity event and it was a smash hit. The onstage fun and nostalgia of D’Town Rewind is so contagious that future shows are often booked by word-of-mouth. “We’ve gotten a couple of shows from people who have previously seen us and they know that we’re very good,” said Binno. “Our friends have also been promoting us. They know what we’re capable of.”
Like just about everything these days, D’Town Rewind is customizable. “We start as a two-piece band, but we can provide more musicians depending on the type of event and the client’s requests,” added Binno.
And the rest is history in the making.
For more information on how you can get down with D’Town Rewind for your event, go to: facebook.com/dtownrewind