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Concerts / Ranky Tanky

Sounds of Gullah

Ranky Tanky translates to “get funky” in Gullah dialect.

Photo by Peter Frank Edwards


Wednesday, May 1

UB’s Center for the Arts



Many contemporary Americans from other parts of the country first became aware of the Gullah culture of the Sea Islands off South Carolina and Georgia via Julie Dash’s visually stunning 1991 film Daughters of the Dust (which recently enjoyed a revival thanks to its influence on Beyonce’s Lemonade). The islands were one of the main locations where enslaved people from West Africa first entered the new world, and their traditions have survived there to this day. This Charleston, South Carolina-based quintet pays tribute to the spirituals, children’s rhymes, lullabies, dance rhythms, and pre-blues laments of Gullah music with electrified instruments and a touch of modern-day jazz sensibilities, fronted by powerhouse vocalist Quiana Parler. Alternately joyous and heartbreaking, the music of Ranky Tanky (a Gullah expression that loosely translates to “get funky”) has already topped the Billboard jazz charts with its self-titled 2017 debut album, but these sounds really need to be experienced live.


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