The coasts of South Carolina and Georgia have their own unique culture known as Gullah culture, which was brought over to America by West Africans. Now a group of musicians from South Carolina and its Lowcountry aim on spreading awareness to the Gullah music.
Ranky Tanky debuted in April of this year and have toured across the country. They will be coming to ETSU Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Martha Street Culp Auditorium.
Charleston based, this quintet performs music from the Gullah culture along with influences of jazz, blues, gospel, and folk music.
The members of Ranky Tanky consist of drummer Quinten Baxter, trumpet player/vocalist Charlton Singleton, guitarist/vocalist Clay Ross, bassist Kevin Hamilton and vocalist Qiuana Parler, with Baxter’s nephew ,Calvin Baxter, filling in for him at the ETSU performance.
“I had the opportunity to learn about Ranky Tanky when I was attending a meeting in North Carolina,” Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis said. “Their music is very upbeat, fun, and infectious! When I first heard them perform, it was hard to sit still and not respond to the beat.”
Each member of Ranky Tanky has a background with music. Singleton is the artistic director and conductor of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra. Baxter is a Grammy-nominated musician and producer. Parler was a top contestant on the 2003 American Idol. Ross has toured extensively with his band Mutato.
“Just as the mountains we live in isolated groups historically yet fostered the development of a unique culture, so to did the Georgia and South Carolina islands,” DeAngelis said. “Ranky Tanky’s music is a blend of gospel vocals, jazz trumpet solos and R&B rhythm while heavily influenced by Gullah music.”
DeAngelis also said that while many of us think we’re not familiar, it is surprising to learn the phrase “Kum Bah Yah” is a Gullah phrase. The song we often sing today is thought to originally come from the Gullah culture.
“The Mary B. Martin school of the Arts likes to celebrate cultures that emerged out of the surrounding area and, by extension, out of the wider nearby region. It’s important for us to remember our histories and to learn more about where many of the things that influence us actually came from. We want our audience to have fun, but we also hope to gain more understanding.”