A Platform for Ethnically and Culturally Inspired Music
Remna Schwarz
Cape Verde
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December 2021 #31 - Top 40 for African Influence Kabalindadi (track)
June 2021 #11 - Top 40 for African Influence Kabalindadi (track)
January 2021 #28 - Top 40 for African Influence Kabalindadi (track)
Rem Na" is a Balanta name. Balanta is an ethnic group in Guinea-Bissau, the country in which his father was born and raised. The legend says that it was while sitting under a tree and playing guitar that this name came to him. Strangely, his father being from another ethnic group, the "Peppel," he should have chosen otherwise. It is probably the origin of Remna Schwarz's controversy today. "Rem Na" means "enough," "no more"... His father being a singer and an activist, it probably meant "enough" with the dictatorship and colonial occupancy. Perhaps José Carlos Schwarz did not want another child... we will never know, for he passed away in a terrible plane accident in Cuba in 1977. He is, still today, considered one of the most important names in Guinea-Bissau's history. Remna was born in Senegal; his mother, a Cape Verdean woman, remarried a few years later, and Remna's childhood and teenage years were filled with packing and unpacking luggage, for he and his family traveled through countries like Zaire, Mali, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, the United States, and France. His first artistic encounter was with Hip Hop, then Reggae, in which he excelled as a back vocalist in a Reggae band for two years. While touring in France, he wrote his first songs and surprised audiences with the maturity of his compositions, his vocal range, and sensitivity.

In 1999, he decided to initiate his solo career. He built a style of his own: mixing acoustic influences with African music, reggae grooves, and jazzy harmonies. All of this was served on the concrete streets where he had been living for years in France. His exceptional way of playing guitar made his musical approach very original. It is needless to say that Remna's travels and lifestyles had a big repercussion on his music writing, which makes it very difficult to brand.

2001 is the year he started performing live, and quickly, he became an opening act for artists with different backgrounds; artists such as NIOMINKA BI (Reggae), DAARA-J (Afro Hip Hop), and Lokua Kanza (World music). He played right before the worldwide acclaimed artist YOUSSOU N'DOUR at an international festival in Switzerland. He was also booked to play regularly in jazz clubs in Paris (e.g., BAISER SALÉ). This probably defines Remna's work: his ability to fit anywhere.

In 2004, he and his band won the first prize in the contest TREMPLIN BACSTAGE, a contest involving more than 2,000 bands throughout France. He reached the semi-finals of another contest destined for a rock audience in 2005 called EMERGENZA. The same year, he received a "LAURÉAT DÉFI JEUNES 2005," which is a prize that allowed his trio to tour the regional much-demanded showrooms and the prestigious festival "PRINTEMPS DE BOURGES" on the set "ENVIE D'AGIR" for discoveries of the year. He showcased in the "FNAC" des Halles in Paris with his first "demo" in 2006. In April of 2007, he opened for the international pop artist AYO in the biggest concert hall of Orléans in FRANCE and released his first awaited album titled "SALTANA" in May of the same year. Remna Schwarz settled in Cabo Verde in 2008, where he co-produced the tribute concert for his father JOSÉ CARLOS SCHWARZ & ORLANDO PANTERA, involving more than 30 artists from Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde such as ENEIDA MARTA, TERESINHA ARAUJO, MARIO LUCIO, PRINCEZITO, RAIZ DI POLON, and many more. He also produced the album KU DJITO DI SUKUTA, directing some internationally acclaimed musicians and producers from Guinea & Cabo Verde (HERNANI ALMEIDA, MANECAS COSTA, TO ALVES...). In 2011, he was selected to open the third edition of the KRIOL JAZZ FESTIVAL in Cabo Verde. Thanks to his teaching abilities, he was contracted in 2012 to be a vocal coach for the CAVIBEL program "BOLSAS MUSICAIS."

For the first time in 2013, Guinea-Bissau entered the network of tours of the "INSTITUTS FRANÇAIS" for musicians in the sub-regional countries. The first band to be selected to represent Guinea-Bissau on that tour in February of the same year was Remna Schwarz and his band. With more than a thousand live performances, Remna has always been able to perform or record with older and much more experienced musicians. He is not only a poet (some might say) or a great singer and songwriter. He is also very "musical." As journalist and music critic from Cabo Verde Nadir Almeida would put it: "(...) One can see images reflected in the music, poetry mixed up with melodies, paintings in the drumming that engages perfectly with what is said, how it is said, and played (...) Remna is no longer a promise, yet a certainty.
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