Above: Members of the band Ranky Tanky at the College of Charleston’s Sottile Theatre in 2021. (Photo by Mike Ledford)
College of Charleston alumni Clay Ross ’98, Quentin Baxter ’98 and Kevin Hamilton ’95 received their second Grammy Award with their band Ranky Tanky on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in the category of Best Regional Roots Music Album for Live At The 2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a recording of the band’s performance at the festival. The group took home its first Grammy award in 2020 in the same category for the album Good Time.
“Our first-ever performance at the famed New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was captured without any pretense of potential accolades,” Ross said in December. “We were simply thrilled to be there and, as always, played our hearts out. I hope the world will see this as an endorsement of our live performances. And for everyone reading, if you haven’t seen a Ranky Tanky show, then it’s time to come see what all the fuss is about. We can’t wait to see you there.”
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. Parler also attended the College prior to competing on American Idol in 2003.
On Sunday, Singleton, who accepted the award on the band’s behalf, celebrated the win, paying homage to the cultural heritage Ranky Tanky’s music builds upon.
“It is an honor to be able to stand on the shoulders of our Gullah ancestry and continue to bring this message and music to the world,” Singleton said.
Ranky Tanky has had a steady rise in success, leading to their second Grammy win. The group’s self-titled debut album, which came out in 2017, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Jazz and Contemporary Jazz charts in January 2018. “Good Time” debuted in July 2019 at No. 2 on Billboard’s Jazz Chart.