Above: Ranky Tanky photographed by Peter Frank Edwards

Clay Ross ’98, Quentin Baxter ’98 and Kevin Hamilton ’95 have received their second Grammy nomination with their band Ranky Tanky. The group took home its first Grammy award in 2020 in the category of Best Regional Roots Music Album for the album Good Time. The ensemble’s latest nomination, again for Best Regional Roots Music Album, is for Live At The 2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a recording of the band’s performance at the festival. 

“We are surprised and honored to receive this second Grammy nomination,” says Ross. “Our first-ever performance at the famed New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was captured without any pretense of potential accolades. We were simply thrilled to be there and, as always, played our hearts out.”

Founded in 2016 with a quintet of musicians, including Ross on vocals and guitar, Baxter on drums, Hamilton on bass, Charlton Singleton on trumpet and vocals and Quiana Parler on vocals, Ranky Tanky takes a modern approach to the traditional sounds of Gullah music. Ross, Baxter and Hamilton all majored in music at the College, and Baxter previously served as adjunct faculty at CofC, teaching jazz percussion.


Amy Chornyak Strunk

Amy Chornyak Strunk

Chapel Hill Magazine named Amy Chornyak Strunk ’02 the Best Landscaper in 2021 and 2022. “Having studied at CofC and being surrounded by such beautiful gardens and history gave me an amazing start on my successful career,” says Strunk, who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and has two children, Graham and Finley. 

Here are her top spring gardening tips: 

Clean your garden tools.
“Make sure you wipe your pruners and oil the gears. Keep a spray bottle of alcohol in your gardening kit to clean between pruning cuts to stop the spread of any disease.”

Check for gaps in your garden. “Take inventory of the garden for anything that may have died over the winter or any areas that look bare, and visit your local garden center for recommendations.” 

Prune shrubs. “Remove dead, damaged and diseased branches from woody plants and perennials. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs. Don’t prune spring bloomers until they finish flowering.” 

Fertilize. “I prefer compost as it’s the most nutrient-dense thing you can add, but slower-release natural fertilizers such as fish emulsion that won’t leach into our waterways are a great alternative.”


Thai Phi

Thai Phi 12 (MBA), the owner of Pink Bellies restaurant on King Street, will be doing one of the signature dinners at the 2023 Charleston Wine + Food Festival in March. Phi will cook alongside another master of Southeast Asian cuisine to delight guests for one special evening. He got his start with a food truck on the College campus and opened his brick-and-mortar location in 2021 after pandemic-related delays.

“When opening a restaurant, you’re going to have so many challenges that you aren’t prepared for it all,” he says. “But when you have a great team to support you and the passion and drive to persevere through those situations, and you come out on the other side, you’re so much better for it. But in the midst of it, it will feel like a lot. Just keep going, and just keep pushing. And when you get to the other side of things, you’ll be glad that you went through it.”