Shenandoah Conservatory’s 2022/23 Season kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8, at Armstrong Concert Hall with a performance by the Grammy Award-winning Charleston, South Carolina-based quintet Ranky Tanky. The band draws inspiration from the rich and resilient culture of the Gullah, who have lived in the Sea Islands and coastal plains of the Southeastern United States for centuries. In addition to its evening performance, the band will conduct workshops and Q&A sessions for Shenandoah University students and the community at large. The project is made possible in part through the Mid Atlantic Folk and Traditional Arts’ Community Projects program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“The Gullah have shaped American musical traditions and culture in surprising and significant ways,” said Shenandoah Conservatory Executive Director of Performances and Engagement and Artistic Director of Performing Arts Live Courtney Reilly ’18, M.S., “yet there is little understanding and appreciation of this unique culture, especially outside the Lowcountry regions where the Gullah have preserved their way of life for centuries.”
Reilly, who has lived in the Lowcountry of North Carolina and Georgia, was excited to bring some of this history and culture to the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
“This project will introduce students from Shenandoah University and our community to the rich traditions and history of the Gullah,” Reilly continued. “Not only is this going to be a significant educational opportunity, it’s also going to be an unforgettable evening of spirited music with playful songs, high-energy rhythms and soulful vocals.”
Ranky Tanky, a Gullah phrase for “get funky,” combines the stories, rhythms, shouts and beats of the Gullah with jazz and gospel traditions to create a wholly unique style of American music that has been described as “soulful honey to the ears” (NPR). The band has earned several number one spots on Billboard and jazz charts and has become an important ambassador for Gullah culture, while also forging a new path for American music.
To view an entire calendar of events, purchase tickets and learn more, visit Conservatory Performs online at www.conservatoryperforms.org, in person at the Shenandoah University Box Office located in the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre lobby or by phone at (540) 665-4569. Regular box office hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.