By Macy Meyer
April 4, 2019 | 4:57pm EDT
Few can understand the tribulations of undergoing multiple open-heart surgeries, overcoming a battle with mental health issues or becoming an outstanding musician and recording artist. And few can say they have faced all at the same time. But local violinist David Binanay can.
“An angel,” “pure joy” and “a difference maker” are a few phrases friend and previous teacher Anthony Yarborough used to describe Binanay and his work. Yarborough said Binanay has the uncanny ability to move the people around him and bring joy to many through his craft, despite the difficulties he has encountered throughout life.
Binanay, known as David Scott by his clients and fans, has played the violin since he was 4 years old, after being captivated by the instrument at a school talent show. He was a young prodigy, studying under the Concert Master at the North Carolina Symphony when he was a child.
Binanay has reached accomplishments such as recording albums, learning to play music phonetically at age 5 and starting a Carolina-based music act called Violin Remix. But in his 20s, David experienced open-heart surgeries that changed his life forever.
The trauma of the surgeries caused him to face mental health challenges including psychosis and schizophrenia, which altered his ability to work and make music. Binanay eventually made a turnaround and began his return to music.
Despite the ongoing struggles, Binanay has never lost his passion for music.
“Music has always been my catalyst for recovery for every heart surgery, for every mental health challenge,” Binanay said. “Music has really been kind of like the motor driving, healing me.”
Binanay used his unusual experiences and strong faith to drive his love for giving back to the community. In addition to providing the Chapel Hill community with music, Binanay gives back with his work as a humanitarian and mental health advocate.
“I’m a better person because of being affiliated with David Binanay and his concept of spreading joy, of spreading love, of spreading music,” Yarborough said.
David started the organization Music Over Mind, which helps those in mental or behavioral hospitals to experience music as a therapy by performing live for the patients. He participates in the program DooR to DooR by going to play for patients at UNC Hospital every Thursday and Friday.
“Just seeing the impact that my experience I had with my heart surgery can affect this patient who is also suffering is pretty awesome,” Binanay said.
At the moment, Binanay is performing and teaching violin. He is known for his act called “Taking Requests Live,” in which he plays any song his crowd requests on his violin. He is also in the process of recording a hip-hop mixtape inspired by his experience of receiving a new heart valve last October and prepping for a performance at Vecino Brewing Co. in Carrboro on April 6.
“If you have any form of appreciation for music, to hear him put that bow on those strings will change your life,” Yarborough said.
Binanay prefers to play contemporary pop melodies instead of classical music. He said he did not want to be boxed into one genre and expanded his abilities to play folk, bluegrass, hip-hop and even rock, explaining that he loves playing songs by Post Malone and Lynyrd Skynyrd back-to-back.
Another friend, David Russell, said Binanay is a remarkable musician who has the ability to play anything and everything when it comes to violin. But more importantly, he said he is an even better person who uses his caring attitude and spirituality to make a positive impact on everyone he meets.
“I want to know how to move crowds,” Binanay said. “I want to know what’s going to uplift people, how am I going to play this song where it’s going to have an impact. Every time I’m playing I’m trying to affect a listener.”