Three College of Charleston alumni will make their national television debut when their band Ranky Tanky performs on the Today Show Friday, March 15, 2019.
Started by alumnus Clay Ross ’98, Ranky Tanky, which is a Gullah term loosely translated as “work it” or “get funky,” takes a modern approach to the traditional sounds of Gullah music. Rooted in the cultural traditions passed down from West African slaves in the sea islands of South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina, Gullah culture encompasses a rich African-American heritage expressed through arts, crafts, cuisine and the creole influenced language of Gullah.
Ross says he and his fellow bandmates, Quentin Baxter ’98, Kevin Hamilton ’95, Charlton Singleton, and Quiana Parler, are thrilled to bring Gullah-inspired songs to a national audience. The band will perform live on NBC’s Today Show between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. EST. Ross, Baxter and Hamilton all majored in music at the College. Baxter currently works as adjunct faculty at CofC, teaching jazz percussion, and also serves as the host of the College’s IN THE MIX speaker series, which features music industry leaders and performers.
“We are humbled and honored for this opportunity to represent the music of our South Carolina home on national television,” says Ross.
Since forming in 2016, Ranky Tanky’s popularity has quickly gained momentum. Members of the band appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross in late 2017 before the group reached No. 1 on the jazz charts for both iTunes and Amazon for their self-titled album Ranky Tanky. The ensemble has performed across the country as well as in Europe over the past year. The group started 2019 with a hometown performance in Charleston with Grammy-award winning musician Bobby McFerrin at the Charleston Gaillard Center.
Ross says Friday’s Today Show performance will feature the band’s new single “Freedom,” which will also be released on Friday on all digital download and streaming platforms. The band has been busy recording new music, and Ross says the group plans to release more singles over the summer followed by a new album in September 2019.
The band’s success, says Ross, is a tribute to all the encouragement the group has received.
“We are held up by the support and enthusiasm of our families, friends, and fans,” he says. “We hope to make everyone proud!”
Featured image: Members of Ranky Tanky from left: Charlton Singleton, Kevin Hamilton, Quiana Parler, Quentin Baxter and Clay Ross. (Photo by Peter Frank Edwards)