Jimmy Rankin

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About Jimmy Rankin

One of Eastern Canada's best-known songwriters, Jimmy Rankin's heartfelt folk-rock storytelling is deeply ingrained in the fabric of Nova Scotia, where he began his career in the late '80s as part of Cape Breton's beloved sibling band the Rankin Family. He helped pioneer the group's Celtic-inspired folk-pop sound in the '90s, writing Rankin Family classics like "Fare Thee Well Love" and "North Country" before becoming a highly visible solo act in the 2000s. With albums like 2001's Song Dog and 2007's Edge of Day, Jimmy expanded his East Coast folk-rock palette to include more distinctive country and roots rock elements and picked up numerous SOCAN, East Coast, and Canadian Country Music Awards along the way. He even moved to Nashville where he made his Juno-nominated 2011 highlight, Forget About the World. Following a Music City tenure that yielded three albums, Jimmy eventually returned to Nova Scotia and recorded the Maritime homecoming album, Moving East, in 2018. In the Cape Breton town of Mabou where he was born, music was the communal language of the Rankin clan, and like most of his 11 siblings, Jimmy played every month in the local ceilidh, learning the traditional Celtic tunes brought over from by the island's original settlers from Scotland and Ireland. Initially a loose coalition of various family members gigging around the island, by the late '80s, a core group including Jimmy, older brother John, and sisters Raylene, Cookie, and Heather had officially banded together under the Rankin Family name playing a mix of Celtic-inspired folk-pop originals and traditional Cape Breton fare. As a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Jimmy's contributions were a core element of the Rankin Family's sound and subsequent mainstream popularity throughout the 1990's. He wrote many of the group's best-known songs including "North Country," "You Feel the Same Way Too," "Mull River Shuffle," and the Juno Award-winning "Fare Thee Well Love." When the Rankin Family disbanded at the end of the decade, Jimmy launched his solo career with the 2001 release Song Dog. Led by the hit single "Followed Her Around," the album's mix of punchy roots-rock, country, and folk was an immediate success and picked up a bevy of awards including Album of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards and at the East Coast Music Awards. This trend would continue over the coming years as additional solo outings like 2003's Handmade and 2007's Edge of Day fared similarly well, picking up SOCAN and East Coast Music Awards as well. He also found work writing for other artists and was named 2008's Songwriter of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards for penning the 2007 Derek Ruttan hit "First Time in a Long Time." That same year also saw a revival of the Rankin Family which, following the 2000 death of eldest brother John, had slimmed down to a quartet for their 2007 Reunion album. Jimmy and his sisters released one more Rankin Family LP, These Are the Moments, in 2009, after which he relocated to Nashville and resumed his solo career. Released in 2011, Jimmy's fourth album, Forget About the World, was another career high point, earning critical accolades, a Juno nomination, eight East Coast Music Award nominations, and Roots Artist of the Year honors at the Canadian Country Music Awards. It also yielded the hit "Here in My Heart," a co-write with fellow Canadian Patricia Conroy featuring guitar work from Keith Urban. A Christmas album, Tinsel Town, followed in 2012 and featured a mix of holiday standards and original songs. His next all-original set, 2014's Back Road Paradise, included yet another hit in "Cool Car" and featured a guest spot from Americana star Alison Krauss. After seven years living in the U.S., Jimmy left Nashville and returned to Nova Scotia, assembling a band of East Coast stalwarts like J.P. Cormier and Ashley MacIsaac to help him make his next album. More tonally diverse than his previous few outings, 2018's Moving East was very much a homecoming album devoted to the Canadian Maritimes and reintroduced some of the Celtic and folk-rock elements particular to the region. ~ Timothy Monger

Mabou, Nova Scotia, Canada
May 28, 1964

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