Earlier this year, 75 year old South Carolina resident Mary Moran had the unique opportunity to go to Sierra Leone with other members of her family. Moran's mother had taught her a song in an African language which had been in the family since an ancestor had been brought over from Africa two hundred years ago. In 1989, through the efforts of anthropologist Joseph Opala and ethnomusicologist Cynthia Schmidt, it had been discovered that this song, composed in the Mende language, was still sung by certain villagers in Sierra Leone.
We feature three members of the quintet Ranky Tanky: guitarist and singer CLAY ROSS, singer QUIANA PARLER, and trumpeter and singer CHARLTON SINGLETON. The group hails from South Carolina and they play the music of/inspired by the Gullah culture, found in the low country regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The Gullah people were descendants of slaves from West Africa. Three members of the band are Gullah. Ranky Tanky's songs are a mix of spirituals, dance music and children's rhymes. Their debut CD titled Ranky Tanky has been in the top 10 of Itunes jazz albums.