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White Plains Music Group to Open for Taylor Dayne Friday

White Plains residents Zilpha Starnes, left, and Dania Abu-Shaheen, right, form the music group "Starnes & Shah." They will be opening for singer Taylor Dayne at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut Friday.
White Plains residents Zilpha Starnes, left, and Dania Abu-Shaheen, right, form the music group "Starnes & Shah." They will be opening for singer Taylor Dayne at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut Friday.

If someone told Zilpha Starnes that she'd be opening for multi-platinum record selling pop diva Taylor Dayne 10 years ago, she probably wouldn’t have believed it.

But that is exactly what will happen Friday when Starnes and Dania Abu-Shaheen, who make up the White Plains-based indie rock duo Starnes & Shah, are scheduled to perform at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut.

Starnes is still having a tough time believing she will share the same stage as Dayne, who is responsible for hits like Tell It to My Heart, Don’t Rush Me and Love Will Lead You Back.

 “I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to wear,” Starnes said. “I can’t wait to meet her. I have no idea what to say when I do meet her.”

Said Shaheen: “This is definitely our biggest gig, yet. We’ve played a lot of places, but this is big for us. It’s definitely going to be fun.”

Starnes, who plays the keyboard, shares vocalist duties with Shaheen, who plays the guitar. The two met while attending Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester and decided to form a band in 2005.

“One day, we started singing together and it sounded cool,” Shaheen said. “Afterward, we were like this is neat. Let’s start singing!”

The band, which moved to White Plains about four years ago, lists Bonnie Raitt, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Indigo Girls as some its influences.

“I think you can say we’re a folk, acoustic guitar group with a lot of vocal harmonies at the core,” Shaheen said. “But we have definitely built in new sounds and we have started to use synthesizer. Zilpha is very creative and she likes to probe around with new ideas.”

The band has performed at local events and venues like Elements on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains and the Pleasantville Music Festival. They’ve also performed regularly in New York City venues like the Knitting Factory and the Living Room.

Starnes, who plays the keyboard, shares vocalist duties with Shaheen, who plays the guitar. To date, the group has recorded four studio albums. Their latest album, Shilling For Dreamtown, can be heard here.

In between practices and gigs, the two manage full-time jobs.

“We love music and performing very much,” Shaheen said. “Of course, the dream is to do it fulltime…It isn’t stressful. It’s a balance.” 

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