Ranky Tanky

This artist performed at the VFMF in 2018

Ranky Tanky (SC)

The Gullah people are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry regions of mostly Georgia and South Carolina, in the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. Brought over as slaves from West Africa to grow rice in this particularly isolated region, the ancestors of modern Gullah people were able to retain a strong cultural connection that ensured the preservation of much of their heritage, while absorbing new influences from the region. They spoke the Gullah language, an English-based Creole language, and passed on their vibrant traditions to the generations that followed.

The word “Gullah” means “a people blessed by God” in West African language. And “Ranky Tanky” translates loosely as “work it” or “get funky!”. In this spirit, this Charleston, SC-based quintet performs timeless music of Gullah culture born in that southeastern Sea Island region.

Ranky Tanky released their eponymnous debut late last year, on Oct 20, 2017. And by December, the group had been profiled on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and their album had soared to the #1 positions on the Billboard, iTunes and Amazon Jazz charts. Clearly there is a world of people waiting to hear, and enthusiastically appreciate and celebrate their amazing music.

South Carolinians 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 now by one of the low-country’s most celebrated vocalists, Quiana Parler, to revive a “Heartland of American Music” born in their own backyards.

From playful game songs to ecstatic shouts, from heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies, the musical roots of Charleston, SC are ‘rank” and fertile ground from which these contemporary artists are grateful to have grown.

We are ecstatic to say we are part of that world of fans who can’t wait for Ranky Tanky to come work it and get funky with us.