Press Clipping
Gullah music to be featured at WKC

On Saturday, Sept. 23, the West Kortright Centre will present a 3 p.m. harmony singing workshop and 7 p.m. concert by South Carolina Gullah band Ranky Tanky. Gullah music features rhythms, melodies and verbal sound effects inspired by African and early African-American musical tradition.

The Gullah people are descendants of slaves from West Africa who worked on rice plantations in the lowlands of South Carolina, Georgia and the Florida coast — also known as the Sea Islands. Given the geographic remoteness and threat of mosquito-borne disease, Gullah communities had little oversight and were able to protect and cultivate their own culture, the practices of which have been passed down from generation to generation, presenters said in a media release.

From 3 to 4 p.m., members of the band will teach three-part harmony singing of traditional Gullah songs. Participants of all ages will learn about polyrhythms, call-and-response, musical play, and the 12-bar-blues. Pre-registration is suggested but not required. No experience is necessary. The workshop is $10 per person. Attendees may pay separately or purchase a ticket to the evening concert and attend the workshop for no added charge.

“Ranky tanky” is a Gullah phrase that loosely translates as “get funky,” the spirit of which describes the band’s contemporary interpretations of traditional songs. With influences of New Orleans jazz, blues, gospel, and R&B, the band’s repertoire is built on re-imagined arrangements of work-songs, playful game-songs, and heartbreaking spirituals, according to a media release. Ranky Tanky is four Gullah descendants and one disciple, all born in South Carolina, who celebrate an American music born in their own backyards: Quiana Parler, vocalist; Clay Ross, vocals and guitar; Quentin E. Baxter, drums; Kevin Hamilton, bass; and Charlton Singleton, trumpet and vocals.

In 2003, Parler achieved a top placement on the TV show “American Idol,” where she was discovered by co-Idol participant Clay Aiken and subsequently toured nationally with him for seven years. She has since appeared on national television shows “The View,” “Good Morning America,” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Tickets to the 7 p.m. concert are $27, or $30 day-of; $24 for members, or $27 day-of, and $11 for those younger than 19. The ticket price includes complimentary admission to the to the workshop. The ticket booth opens at 6 p.m., and the doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The West Kortright Centre is at 49 West Kortright Church Road in West Kortright. For advance tickets and exact travel directions, visit