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Ranky Tanky To Perform ‘Gullah’ Music in West Hartford

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Ranky Tanky will play its  unique blend of playful game songs and hearbreaking spirituals set to a unique Sea Islands’ Groove at the Autorino Center for the Arts at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford.


From the South Carolina Lowcountry, where life is laced with African ways, Ranky Tanky is a quintet with music rooted in a culture that has shaped American art, food, language and attitude. Their current tour celebrates that culture, its people and their mother tongue, Gullah and will perform at the Autorino Center for the Arts on Friday, March 2 at the Hoffman Auditorium in the Bruyette Athenaeum, University of Saint Joseph at 7:30 p.m.

“Gullah” comes from West African language and means “a people blessed by God.” “Ranky Tanky” translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky!” In this spirit the quintet performs timeless music of Gullah culture born in the southeastern Sea Island region of the United States. 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.

The soulful songs of the Gullah culture are brought to life by this band who mix the low country traditions with large doses of jazz, gospel, funk, and R&B. When fresh out of college, trumpeter Charlton Singleton, guitarist Clay Ross, bassist Kevin Hamilton, and drummer Quentin Baxter originally worked together as an in-demand jazz quartet on the Charleston scene in the late 1990s before splitting off to each make their way as freelance musicians, working with names like Houston Person, Freddy Cole, Cyro Baptista, and René Marie. Gaining years of valuable experience while developing a deeper appreciation for the Gullah tradition they came from, the band reformed with the dynamic vocalist Quiana Parler to celebrate the bone-deep mix of spirituals and gutbucket blues–music made by a self-contained culture of descendants of enslaved Africans that introduced such indelible parts of American songbook as “Kum Bah Yah” and “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore.”

A distinct Gullah pulse anchors Ranky Tanky’s music, a pulse originating in Africa, that beats in the heart of American music. This vibrant, life affirming pulse propels Gullah stories, essential to the human experience, through evocative and timeless folk melodies imbibed with the mysteries of nature and the essence of life.

“We are fortunate to have Ranky Tanky’s vibrant talent and their positive perspective on our campus and available to the community,” said Steven Raider Ginsburg, director or the Autorino Center for the Arts.

For more information on Ranky Tanky, please visit: www.rankytanky.com

Tickets range in price from $15-$30 and can be purchased at the Frances Driscoll Box Office, by calling 860-231-5555 or online at tickets.usj.edu. A $2.00 service charge is added to all ticket sales.

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