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Ranky Tanky released their eponymous debut album on October 20, 2017. By December of that year, the group had been profiled on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and their album soared to the number-one position on the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon jazz charts.
“Gullah” comes from West African language and means “a people blessed by God,” and “Ranky Tanky” translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky.” In this spirit, the quintet based in Charleston, South Carolina, performs timeless music of Gullah culture born in the southeastern Sea Islands region of the United States. From playful game songs to ecstatic shouts, from heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies, the musical roots of Charleston are fertile ground from which these contemporary artists are grateful to have grown.
South Carolina natives Quentin Baxter (drums), Kevin Hamilton (bass), Charlton Singleton (trumpet, vocals), and Clay Ross (guitar, vocals) first came together in 1998, fresh out of university, to form a seminal Charleston jazz quartet. Now, united by years apart and a deeper understanding of home, these accomplished artists have come together again, joined by one of the low-country’s most celebrated vocalists Quiana Parler, to revive a “Heartland of American Music” born in their own backyards.
Combining revered Gullah kinship with a jazz sensibility, Ranky Tanky accentuates the spirituality connected to the ring shouts and praise houses, proposing a modern rendition of their ancestral music.
—All About Jazz
Ranky Tanky brings freshness and uplift to overlooked Americana. In a pop music milieu ever hungry for newness, this group proves that the right musicians can make the past new all over again.