One of the foremost Palestinian female singers, lyricists and composers. Born in the city of Nazareth in the Galilee, Rim loved music and singing since her early childhood and started her artistic life when she was ten years old. Banna studied music and singing at the High Institute for Music Gnesins in Moscow. She graduated in 1991, after six years of academic studies, specializing in modern singing and the conducting of singing ensembles. During that period she produced two albums of her live concerts: Jafra in 1985 and Your Tears, Mother in 1986.
During her studies, Banna met Leonid Alexeienko, from the Ukraine, who is also an artist, and they got married in 1991. Both now live in Nazareth and they form a talented musical duet, creating and arranging their productions together.
Banna's songs are inspired by the Palestinian people's conscience, sentiments, culture, history and folklore. Her inspiration emanates from the desert rhythm in the south, from the long-lived song of the Palestinian seashore, from the meadows and plains, from the echo that reverberates between mountains and valleys. From the sounds of ancient Canaanite hymns, from the chirping of the sparrows and the garden nightingales that never emigrate, just like the blessed olive tree, the resisting cactus on the borders of the orchards, and the grape vine that is spread all over the hills of Palestine. Banna's songs express the suffering of the Palestinian people, their dreams, visions, hopes, joys and sorrows. The lyrics are composed either by Banna herself or are inspired from local folklore. She has also used lyrics from poems by famous Palestinian poets such as Mahmoud Darwish, Tawfik Zayyad, Samih El-Qasem, Zuhaira Sabbagh and others.
Banna performs Palestinian folk songs with husband Leonid in a modern Palestinian musical arrangement, without tampering with the authenticity of the tune and the beauty of the lyrics. Their aim is to preserve the continuity of the grand heritage of popular culture for the coming generations. Banna is best known for her singing of popular lullabies, which also come from Palestinian folklore. She was the first to sing lullabies in front of local and international audiences, thus liberating the lullaby that was once confined to the bedroom, close to a child's cradle.
Through her art, Banna strives to uplift the Arabic and Palestinian thematic and unconventional song and bring it to international renown. She also aims at liberating the Arabic song of the negative flaws stemming from outside influences.
Banna has also produced a collection of children's songs for which she wrote the words and the tunes. The songs have been warmly applauded by children at various children's festivals in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Nazareth and Haifa. Since the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Rim and Leonid have been touring the West Bank, performing for Palestinian children in the refugee camps.
To date, Banna has produced six albums and CDs, the most famous of which are The Dream (1993), New Moon (1995), Mukaghat (1996) and Al-Quds Everlasting (2002). A few of Banna's songs were featured in several Arab and international films and TV movies. Banna has performed locally and internationally and has participated in many local and international festivals. She appeared at festivals in Egypt, Morocco, Tunis, Jordan, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic. She was also awarded several badges and honorary degrees, including one from Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.