The Rankin Family

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The Rankin Family
The Rankin Family, 1990.png
The Rankin Family performing aboard the M/S Scotia Prince, April 18, 1990. From left to right: Jimmy Rankin, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Phillips, Raylene Rankin, John Morris Rankin, Cookie Rankin, Heather Rankin.
Background information
Origin Mabou, Nova Scotia
Genres Country/folk
Years active1989 (1989)–present
Labels Capitol, EMI, Liberty, MapleMusic
Members Jimmy Rankin
Cookie Rankin
Heather Rankin
Past members Raylene Rankin (1960–2012)
John Morris Rankin (1959-2000)
David Rankin
Geraldine Rankin (1958–2007)
Genevieve Rankin

The Rankin Family are a Canadian musical family group from Mabou, Nova Scotia. The group has won many Canadian music awards, including 15 East Coast Music Awards, six Juno Awards, four SOCAN Awards, three Canadian Country Music Awards and two Big Country Music Awards.




The Rankins come from a family of 12 siblings, all of whom would entertain the neighbours musically every third weekend as part of a cèilidh. The first Rankin Family band formed in the 1970s when siblings Geraldine, Genevieve, David, John Morris, and Raylene Rankin began performing at local weddings and dances in Cape Breton. [1] As the older siblings went away to college and university, the younger siblings Jimmy, Cookie and Heather took their places. [2]

1989 - 1999

Jimmy, John Morris, Cookie, Raylene and Heather Rankin released their own independent cassettes, The Rankin Family (1989) and Fare Thee Well Love (1990), featuring original songs and a combination of traditional jigs, reels and Celtic folk songs. These independent recordings were distributed by the Canadian independent folk music distribution company 'Soundwright' until the band's major label breakthrough with EMI. Their television debut was on the CBC Television variety show On the Road Again in 1989. EMI's re-release of Fare Thee Well Love in 1992, went quadruple platinum, selling over 500,000 copies; the title track was a Top 40 single in Canada.

In 1998 The Rankins first worked with The Chieftains on their album, Fire in the Kitchen , performing the Celtic song, "An Innis Aigh" (The Happy Isle). That year the band released an album, Uprooted, which had a country music flavour. [3]

On September 17, 1999, after recording the song "Jimmy Mo Mhile Stor" with The Chieftains for their album, Tears of Stone , the group issued a press release stating that they would no longer perform as a group in order to pursue independent interests and careers.

2000 - present

On January 16, 2000, John Morris Rankin was killed in a car accident in Cape Breton Island. [4] His daughter Molly Rankin is now a musician, and is lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the indie pop band Alvvays. [5]

In the spring of 2000 Heather Rankin joined Carly Simon on her New York City promotional tour for Simon's record The Bedroom Tapes , and appeared with Simon on the Rosie O'Donnell show.

Jimmy Rankin has continued to write songs and has released five solo albums: Song Dog (2001), Handmade (2003), Edge of Day (2007), Forget About the World (2011), and Back Road Paradise (2014). Raylene Rankin released the solo albums Lambs in Spring (2004) and all the diamonds (2011). Heather Rankin released the solo albums A Fine Line (2016) and Imagine (2017); [6] the first album included a cover of the Tears for Fears hit “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” featuring Halifax rapper, Quake Matthews. [7] When not performing on their own, the sisters run The Red Shoe pub in Mabou. [8]

One of the founders of the group, Geraldine Coyne (Rankin), died January 10, 2007, the result of a brain aneurysm, at her home in Calgary. She had not performed with the group since prior to the first recordings' being released. [2]

On January 16, 2007, the album Reunion was released, and in 2009 the Rankin Family released their seventh studio album, These Are the Moments .

On June 3, 2012, Raylene Rankin appeared on CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition where she spoke about her decade-long struggle with cancer. [9] She died of metastatic breast cancer on September 30, 2012. [10] After funeral services in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Halifax and St. Mary's Church in Mabou, she was buried in St. Mary's cemetery. [11]


Former members


Studio albums

Awards and nominations

1992 Juno Awards Most Promising Group of the YearNominated
Country Group or Duo of the YearNominated
Best Roots & Traditional Album - Fare Thee Well Love Nominated
1994 Juno Awards Single of the Year - Fare Thee Well Love Won
Group of the Year [12] Won
Country Group or Duo of the Year [12] Won
Canadian Entertainer of the Year [12] Won
1995 Juno Awards Group of the YearNominated
1996 Juno Awards Album of the Year - North Country Nominated
Country Group or Duo of the YearNominated
1997 Juno Awards Country Group or Duo of the YearWon
1999 Juno Awards Best GroupNominated
2000 Juno Awards Best Country Group or DuoWon
2002 Juno Awards Best Country Artist/Group - Jimmy Rankin (solo)Nominated
2012 Juno Awards Country Album of the Year - Forget About the World (Jimmy Rankin solo album)Nominated
2013 Juno Awards Adult Contemporary Album of the Year - All The Diamonds (Raylene Rankin solo album)Nominated

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Jimmy Rankin

James Kevin Rankin is a Canadian country and folk artist. A member of The Rankin Family, Rankin has also released seven solo albums: Song Dog (2001), Handmade (2003), Edge of Day (2007), Forget About the World (2011), Tinsel Town (2012), Back Road Paradise (2014) and Moving East (2018). Rankin's solo and Rankin Family awards include 5 Junos, 27 East Coast Music Awards, 9 SOCAN top radio play Awards, 7 Canadian Country Music Awards, 2 Music NS Awards, and 2 Canadian Radio Music Awards.

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<i>Fare Thee Well Love</i> 1990 studio album by The Rankin Family

Fare Thee Well Love is the second studio album by Canadian folk music group The Rankin Family. The album was originally self-released by the siblings in 1990. It was re-issued by Capitol Records in 1992 and certified 5× Platinum by the CRIA.

<i>North Country</i> (album) 1993 studio album by The Rankin Family

North Country is the third studio album by Canadian folk music group The Rankin Family. It was released by EMI on August 24, 1993. The album peaked at number 1 on the RPM Country Albums chart. A revised version was released in the United States in 1994. This version contained material from the original North Country album, 1992's Fare Thee Well Love and the Grey Dusk of Eve EP.

<i>Collection</i> (The Rankin Family album) 1996 greatest hits album by The Rankin Family

Collection is the first greatest hits album by Canadian folk music group The Rankin Family. It was released by EMI in 1996. The album peaked at number 1 on the RPM Country Albums chart.

<i>Do You Hear…Christmas</i> 1997 studio album by Heather, Cookie and Raylene Rankin

Do You Hear…Christmas is a Christmas album by Heather, Cookie and Raylene Rankin of Canadian folk music group The Rankin Family. It was released by EMI in November 1997.

<i>Uprooted</i> (The Rankin Family album) 1998 studio album by The Rankins

Uprooted is the fifth studio album by Canadian folk music group The Rankins. It was released by EMI on April 28, 1998. The album peaked at number 30 on the RPM Top Albums chart.

<i>Souvenir: 1989—1998</i> 2003 compilation album by The Rankins

Souvenir: 1989—1998 is the second greatest hits album by Canadian folk music group The Rankins. It was released by EMI on April 1, 2003. The album peaked at number 61 on the Canadian Albums Chart.

<i>Reunion</i> (The Rankin Family album) 2007 studio album by The Rankin Family

Reunion is the sixth studio album by Canadian folk music group The Rankin Family. It was released by EMI on January 16, 2007. The album peaked at number 50 on the Canadian Albums Chart.

"Gillis Mountain" is a song recorded by Canadian music group The Rankin Family. It was released in 1993 as the third single from their second studio album, Fare Thee Well Love. It peaked in the top 10 on the RPM Country Tracks and Adult Contemporary Tracks charts. The song is a reference to Gillis Mountain, a 166-meter mountain in Cape Breton.

"Rise Again" is a song recorded by Canadian music group The Rankin Family. It was released in 1993 as the first single from their third studio album, North Country. It peaked in the top 10 on the RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, and was a Top 20 hit on the magazine's pop chart and a Top 40 hit on its country chart.


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<i>Back Road Paradise</i> 2014 studio album by Jimmy Rankin

Back Road Paradise is the sixth studio album by Canadian folk music artist Jimmy Rankin. It was released on April 1, 2014 on Rankin's own Song Dog label and distributed by Fontana North. The album is more country than Rankin's previous releases. It features collaborations with Alison Krauss and Jim Cuddy. The first single released from the album was "Cool Car".

Heather Rankin (singer) Canadian singer, songwriter and actor (born 1967)

Heather Elaine Rankin is a Canadian singer, songwriter and actor. She is most well known as a member of the multi-platinum selling musical group The Rankin Family.

Leon Dubinsky is a Canadian actor, theatre director and composer from Sydney, Nova Scotia.


  1. Elaine Keillor (18 March 2008). Music in Canada: Capturing Landscape and Diversity. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 298–. ISBN   978-0-7735-3391-2.
  2. 1 2 Canadian Post, The Cape Breton Post, "Rankins Tour Postponed as Family Grieves", pg A2, January 13, 2007
  3. Larry LeBlanc (9 May 1998). The RAnkins show their country roots. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 57–. ISSN   0006-2510.
  4. "John Morris Rankin killed in truck crash". 11 November 2000.
  5. "Alvvays’s Molly Rankin broke with family tradition". The Georgia Straight , November 26, 2014.
  6. "Heather Rankin - Heather Rankin and Friends coming to Key City".
  7. Heather Rankin (1 April 2016). "Heather Rankin - Everybody Wants to Rule the World, ft. Quake (Tears For Fears Cover)" via YouTube.
  8. The Red Shoe Pub History Archived 2015-03-11 at the Wayback Machine . Accessed 19 March 2016
  9. "Documentary: All the Diamonds". 18 November 2014.
  10. "Singer Raylene Rankin dies of cancer". 30 September 2012.
  11. "A final farewell to Raylene Rankin", Cape Breton Post, October 5, 2012. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  12. 1 2 3 Larry LeBlanc (24 December 1994). A Breakthrough Year for Canadian Acts. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 53–. ISSN   0006-2510.