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Ranky Tanky, from Charleston, S.C., sings old Gullah songs—some of them sly moral lessons—in arrangements that connect their beat to a New Orleans lilt.
—New York Times
The biggest surprise of [GlobalFEST], Ranky Tanky proved that exotic music can be both unfamiliar enough to be surprising, and yet familiar enough to provoke swinging hips and nodding heads. When it works, it’s the best of both worlds.
This group isn’t bound to any one particular musical genre, and it is grounded instead by an enigmatic, unshakeable and unspoiled tradition that’s long been hidden in plain sight.
Ranky Tanky released their eponymous debut 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, this Charleston, South Carolina–based quintet performs timeless music of Gullah culture born in the Sea Islands region of the southeastern 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, Kevin Hamilton, Charlton Singleton, and Clay Ross 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.
Quentin Baxter – Drums, Percussion
Kevin Hamilton – Bass
Quiana Parler – Vocalist
Clay Ross – Guitar, Vocals
Charlton Singleton – Trumpet, Vocals