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Ranky Tanky's Songs Are 'Soulful Honey To The Ears'

Courtesy of Ranky Tanky

“A people blessed by God" is how Gullah speakers translate their Afro-English dialect's name. Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA are hotbeds of Gullah language, songs and stories, and the rich repertoire of the Charleston quintet Ranky Tanky doesn't disappoint: "ranky tanky" is Gullah for “get funky.” Singer Quiana Parler shares the band's origin story with John Floridis, and reflects on their 2020 Grammy win for Best Regional Roots Album. From playful game songs to ecstatic shouts, from heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies, the musical roots of Charleston are “rank” and fertile ground from which these contemporary musicians 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, they've reunited and have joined with one of the lowcountry’s most celebrated vocalists, Quiana Parler, to revive a musical tradition born in their own backyards.

(Broadcast: Musician's Spotlight,  5/11/21. Listen on the radio Tuesdays, 7 p.m., or via podcast.)


John Floridis, the host and producer of Musician's Spotlight, has been with Montana Public Radio since 1997. He has interviewed over 200 musicians during that time. He is also an independent recording and performing artist in his own right and a former registered music therapist.
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