In the last year or so, Ranky Tanky has gone from one of Charleston’s favorite jazz groups to a fast-rising national sensation, all because of their exploration of, and expansion on, the Lowcountry Gullah gospel sound. The group has appeared on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross and the Today show and spent months on the Billboard Jazz chart, and they’ve also spent most of 2018 and ‘19 touring the country and the world.
“We didn’t plan any of this,” says Ranky Tanky vocalist Quiana Parler. “We released the first album in 2017, we had no idea it was going to take off. We’re spreading the good news in a culture that a lot of people don’t know about. They might know ‘Kumbaya’ or ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore,’ but they don’t know that that comes directly from the Gullah people. I’m so glad God chose me and my brothers to take this journey together.”
And while they’re out on the road spreading Charleston’s music to the world, Parler says that things like being voted Charleston’s Best Female Vocalist (and Ranky Tanky being voted Best Jazz Band) keep her going. “It means so much because we’re still thinking about you guys back at home,” she says. “We’re not home with you, but we’re still working on spreading the gospel of Charleston.” —Vincent Harris
Runner-up: Charleston Jazz Orchestra
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