Deriving its name from a Gullah phrase meaning "work it" or "get funky," Charleston’s Ranky Tanky gives old spirituals, shouts, and lullabies from the Carolina and Georgia islands a jazz, R&B, and gospel treatment that is funky indeed. “It is all from the Gullah culture,” says trumpeter, vocalist, and director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, Charlton Singleton. Singleton, along with vocalist Quiana Parler, guitarist/vocalist Clay Ross, bassist Kevin Hamilton, and drummer/percussionist Quentin Baxter make up Ranky Tanky, whose creative arrangements of Gullah songs, poems, and stories will be heard at festivals all over North America and Europe this summer.
After late last year's successful Kickstarter campaign, Ranky Tanky’s future got brighter when they appeared at GlobalFEST in New York City’s Webster Hall back in January. "That performance has definitely opened doors for us," he says. "We have been receiving requests from festivals and other venues all over the world as a result of it."
The band opens for Lucinda Williams and Langhorne Slim during this weekend’s Low Tide Social ahead of the High Water Festival—the only part of the fest that's not sold out. From there, Ranky Tanky performs in New York City’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center during Carnegie Hall Presents; in Canada for a three-night stand during the Alianait Arts Festival; and another three-night stand in Manhattan at none other than the Lincoln Center. Ranky Tanky will also perform this summer at festivals in Czechia, Sweden, Austria, Norway, and much more.
Singleton says, "Our mission is to introduce to some and revive these songs, stories, poems, dances that have been the heartland of American music."