“Ranky tanky” is Gullah and roughly means “work it,” or “get funky!” This suits the danceable and gripping sound that the troupe lends Gullah music. This Creole tradition originated in the rice growing areas on the coast of the US states of Georgia and South Carolina and in this region is still preserved in the African American population’s language, cuisine and music. Energetic call and response, clapped and stamped rhythms are characteristic of the work songs and spirituals sung by the enslaved West Africans and their descendants on the rice plantations. The band around singer Quiana Parler and Charlton Singleton (trumpet, vocals) gives it a modern jazz slant. On the band’s self-titled album released in 2017, a dialog unfolds not only between the ensemble members, but also between the past and the present.
When Nelida Karr’s fingers rush over the fret board of her guitar, it’s not just her speed that’s impressive. The songwriter’s playing combines Equatorial Guinean rhythms, Spanish and Latin American elements and the blues to create a unique mix. The polyglot singer grew up in the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa with the music of the local Bubi, an ethnic group from the Bantu family, but also with pop music from Nigeria and the Congo. While her father, a music producer, introduced her to jazz and blues, Karr soon taught herself Spanish and Latin American guitar rhythms. She has released three albums since 2010 of her “Afro-fusion,” which she presents as a virtuoso on the instrument and, moreover, as a communicator and interpreter of Equatorial Guinean music cultures.