Oana Catalina Chitu (born in Humulesti, a small village in the northeastern side of Romania) grew up in the backwaters of Romania in rural surroundings and she sang in the church choir of her home village as a child, already learning guitar in her early years. She arrived in Berlin in the nineties, after having made many stops along the way, and studied piano, jazz and opera singing.
In 2000, she formed the Balkan band 'Romenca' with the accordion player Dejan Jovanovic who comes originally from Serbia. They were joined by Vladimir Karparov (Bulgaria), sax, Dejan Jovanovic (Serbia), accordion, Alexej Wagner (Russia), guitar, and Alexander Franz (Siberia), bass. An album, Verka, followed, as well as tours through Europe, concerts that opened for the public those exotic Balkans, full of rhythm and energy.
One night at Neukölner Oper cut a new path in Oana’s and Dejan’s lives. The Moldavian cimbalom player, Valeriu Cașcaval, who was there to play in a series of concerts, got together with the two artists for a performance with Romanian Interwar Music, at ICR Berlin. To Oana, the songs of Old Bucharest, their sweet cadence, their sometimes devastating sadness, were something she knew very well. She had many times heard those songs played by her father, when she was a child, so she decided to bring them back to life for the public from all over the world.
This is how Bucharest Tango was born, a CD and a music project by Romenca and Bessarabian musicians Valeriu Cașcaval (cimbalom) and Anton Slavici (violin), who took them to the stages of Singapore, Lithuania, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium and Germany, where they created an atmosphere of an Interwar Bucharest sprung from Oana’s imagination: cosmopolitan, open, charming by its zest for life and its diverse culture. They signed a record deal with Asphalt Tango (which is also the label of Fanfara Ciocârlia, among others) and, in 2013, the same eight musicians continued to tell a Romanian nostalgic story in their album, Divine, dedicated to the great interwar singer Maria Tănase. When the album was launched, it was 100 years since the birth of the great singer. The album was meant to value the heritage of a singer who used to be called Romania’s Edith Piaf.
As a matter of fact, Maria Tănase, the real person, as well as her music, were a true revelation for nowadays’ audience. Oana Cătălina Chițu brought these ‘songs from the slum’ in West European concert halls, those heart-rending donas, resulting in a show in which one could understand the extravagant personality of Maria Tănase.
Since 2016 Oana has been working along with Valeriu Cascaval and Dejan Jovanovic at a new music project: Romanian carols, old Christmas songs about nature, life, prosperity. These songs are played in a personal manner, meant to preserve the original melody and at the same time, to reveal an immaculate world, a dream winter landscape, such as the one at the foot of the Carpathian mountains. These songs will most likely be recorded into a new album soon.