The year 2020 became another year of disappointment for Hawaii and Hawaii recording artists when “Good Time,” the album by Ranky Tanky, a quintet that specializes in jazz-influenced arrangements of the traditional African-American Gullah music of the Southeastern United States, won the award for Best Regional Roots Music album during the non-televised portion of the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards today at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It was the first time that a band representing Gullah music traditions had been a finalist in the category.
“Good Time” prevailed over “Kalawai‘anui,” the critically acclaimed celebration of family legacy and genealogy by Amy Hanaiali‘i, “Hawaiian Lullaby,” a compilation album produced by Imua Garza and Kimie Miner, “Recorded Live At The 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival” by the Rebirth Brass Band, and “When It’s Cold – Cree Round Dance Songs” by the Canadian First Nations powwow and round dance drum and singing group Northern Cree.
The Best Regional Roots Music category was created in 2011 as a catch-all for Hawaiian, Native American/First Nation, polka, and Louisiana-based Cajun and zydeco music, and replaced separate award categories for those distinctly different styles of music. New Orleans-based “roots” artists have received a majority of the finalist nominations since the category was created and have won it six out of nine times since it first appeared on the ballot in 2012.
Ranky Tanky joins Maui resident Kalani Pe‘a as the only recording artists from outside the Cajun/zydeco community to have won the Best Regional Roots category.