The Rankin Family

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The Rankin Family
The Rankin Family performing aboard the M/S Scotia Prince, April 18, 1990. From left to right: Jimmy Rankin, guest Natalie MacMaster, guest Bruce Phillips, Raylene Rankin, John Morris Rankin, Cookie Rankin, Heather Rankin.
The Rankin Family performing aboard the M/S Scotia Prince, April 18, 1990. From left to right: Jimmy Rankin, guest Natalie MacMaster, guest Bruce Phillips, Raylene Rankin, John Morris Rankin, Cookie Rankin, Heather Rankin.
Background information
Also known asThe Rankins
OriginMabou, Nova Scotia, Canada
GenresCeltic, country, folk
Years active1989 (1989)–present
LabelsCapitol, EMI, Liberty, MapleMusic
MembersJimmy Rankin
Cookie Rankin
Heather Rankin
Past membersRaylene Rankin (1960–2012)
John Morris Rankin (1959-2000)
David Rankin
Geraldine Rankin (1958–2007)
Genevieve Rankin

The Rankin Family (also known as The Rankins) 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]


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.


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) and live in Nashville.[6] Heather Rankin released the solo albums A Fine Line (2016) and Imagine (2017);[7] the first album included a cover of the Tears for Fears hit “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” featuring Halifax rapper, Quake Matthews.[8] When not performing on their own, the sisters run The Red Shoe pub in Mabou.[9]

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.[10] She died of metastatic breast cancer on September 30, 2012.[11] 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.[12]


Former members[edit]


Studio albums

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Result
1992 Juno Awards Most Promising Group of the Year Nominated
Country Group or Duo of the Year Nominated
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[13] Won
Country Group or Duo of the Year[13] Won
Canadian Entertainer of the Year[13] Won
1995 Juno Awards Group of the Year Nominated
1996 Juno Awards Album of the Year - North Country Nominated
Country Group or Duo of the Year Nominated
1997 Juno Awards Country Group or Duo of the Year Won
1999 Juno Awards Best Group Nominated
2000 Juno Awards Best Country Group or Duo Won
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


  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. ^ a b 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. ^ "From The Rankin Family to the solo Rankin performing in Sidney". Peninsula News Review. 2017-01-23. Retrieved 2024-03-11.
  7. ^ "Heather Rankin - Heather Rankin and Friends coming to Key City".
  8. ^ Heather Rankin (1 April 2016). "Heather Rankin - Everybody Wants to Rule the World, ft. Quake (Tears For Fears Cover)" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ The Red Shoe Pub History Archived 2015-03-11 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 19 March 2016
  10. ^ "Documentary: All the Diamonds". 18 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Singer Raylene Rankin dies of cancer". 30 September 2012.
  12. ^ "A final farewell to Raylene Rankin", Cape Breton Post, October 5, 2012. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  13. ^ a b c Larry LeBlanc (24 December 1994). "A Breakthrough Year for Canadian Acts". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 53–. ISSN 0006-2510.

External links[edit]