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Walking A Fine Line
Heather Rankin

Heather Rankin, a Mabou native, has released her first solo CD – A Fine Line. The first single from the album is the cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World, the 1980s Tears for Fears hit. PHOTO: Contributed

Antigonish Casket 

Posted on April 6, 2016 by Corey LeBlanc

You would think it was a case of – been there done that – when Heather Rankin held a copy of her recently released CD for the first time.

After all, she has been part of several albums over the years, including as a member of The Rankin Family, the globally-renowned Celtic group made up of her and her siblings; or as a trio with her sisters – Raylene and Cookie.

But, this was different; A Fine Line, which made its debut April 1, is the first solo effort for the Mabou native.

“It is kind of like that experience when they first take the training wheels off of your bicycle, where you are absolutely terrified, and you just kind of blindly go for it, but it is exhilarating at the same time; that’s probably the best way to describe it,” Rankin told the Casket of that moment.

“You know, it is really my jumping-off point for – I have never done anything this (pauses) separate from my family, so it is exciting, it is very exciting.”

In recent years, Rankin has remained on stage, but as a cast member with a variety of theatre productions.

“It just felt like the right time for me to maybe venture out and try a solo record.” she said.

Rankin added she “didn’t want to completely abandon the music world.”

“Opportunities with my family were my outlet for so long, and when that became less and less frequent, it just seemed like the obvious direction to maybe venture out and record a solo record,” she noted.

Rankin said she “never really saw herself as a solo artist.”

“I guess, maybe, because I never needed to; I was always quite content to be one of the gang,” she added.

Taking ‘an adventure’

Nevertheless, Rankin had been penning some songs and “didn’t have an outlet to share them.”

“So, I decided that I would maybe make this record. I just went exploring and I worked with a variety of people,” she said.

One of those was California-based songwriter and producer David Tyson, who has worked with other Canadian solo artists, such as Alannah Myles and Amanda Marshall.

“He is a master of the craft of song-writing, and also an amazing producer, and I am a fan of his work,” Rankin said of Tyson.

She added she never envisioned co-writing seven of the album’s 11 tracks with him.

When they met, Rankin said Tyson encouraged her to move from her original plan to record a group of cover songs.

“He encouraged me to just take my time and finish – write more – and write with him, and do more of my own music, which – in a way – is a very smart thing to do,” she added, her voice rising.

“You are really speaking to the heart of where you are coming from.”

She described the process as “an adventure.”

“When I think about it, I have never – my entire life I have been flanked by family; I have always had that support system of family, in whatever I have done in business – whether it was making records and touring with The Rankin Family, or making records and touring with my sisters, or buying the pub [The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou],” Rankin said.

“Even when I went to university I had two sisters going to the same university and one of them was in the same program. So, really, relatively late in life, I am setting out on my own, for the first time. While that is liberating in its own way, it is also very terrifying.”

She described meeting and working with Tyson as “a real jumping-off point for me.”

“I feel like I have grown a lot as an individual. I guess I am kind of a later bloomer (laughing); relatively late in life making my debut solo record,” Rankin noted.

‘The human condition’

As for the song-writing process, she said, when she is writing on her own, “I am usually noodling around on the piano, and it is just repetitive, until you find something.”

“Sometimes, it is mumbo-jumbo, and you get a line out of it, and it grows from that one kernel of an idea,” Rankin added.

And, other times, “it is just a lyric that comes to you,” as was the case with Sitting in a Café, one of the cuts from A Fine Line.

“Walking around by myself in downtown L.A. and I went for some breakfast and saw a couple guys walk in and order breakfast,” she recalled.

Just from that experience, Rankin said a song came to her, while part of a lyric for another one came while she was sleeping.

“So, a variety of ways, I think, for me when I write,” Rankin said, with a laugh.

As for what listeners can expect from the tunes, she said “you could categorize it as adult contemporary music.”

“Some of the songs lean more in the pop direction, while some of them are a bit more theatrical, and then there are some that are more in the direction of what you might have expected me to have done with The Rankin Family,” she said.

“But, although they vary musically, thematically, there is a thread that runs through all of them, and that includes the one cover song that we do on the record – Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

“I am singing largely about the human condition and that quest that we are on each day to find balance, whether it is in our work, or our relationships, or ourselves,” Rankin added.

As for her favourite tunes, Rankin started with We Walk as One, which also features vocals from her brother, Jimmy.

“It really speaks to my experience coming for rural Cape Breton, growing up in a large family with very little, and rising out of the adversity that comes with all of those things,” she said.

Rankin added she is “quite fond” of Titaniclly, which she and Tyson penned about the violin recovered after the Titanic sank.

“We personified the violin and gave it its own personal story and it kind of goes in the direction of musical theatre, which I really love,” she said.

Noting it “changes every day,” when it comes to her favourite songs, Rankin then talked about the aforementioned Sitting in a Café.

“It is a very – almost cabaret-like singer-songwriter; very simple, accessible lyric, with a kind of an interesting melody,” she said.

On the road

The official release of A Fine Line took place April 1, which included an appearance on CTV Morning Live.

“We are going to officially release the video for Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” Rankin said, in the March 22 phone interview.

From there, she said she was scheduled to fulfill her commitments as co-host and gala performer for the 2016 East Coast Music Awards in Sydney.

“I have got a number of other commitments during the week for private events and a songwriters’ circle,” Rankin noted.

In May, she will team up with North Sydney native Kim Dunn, another a singer-songwriter, for “a string of dates in Nova Scotia,” including Sydney, New Glasgow, Truro and Mabou, along with a pair of performances in Halifax.

Ruling the world

As for the listener response to the CD’s first release, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, the re-make of the 1980s Tears for Fears hit, Rankin said it has been “pretty positive.”

“That’s very encouraging, and I am so grateful that people are responding, because it is a bit of a departure for me, and I know a lot of people would have expected me to come out and do traditional music, which I can always do – I can always go back to that,” she said of the compilation.

“But, that’s what I have always done and it just didn’t seem – at this point in time – the right fit for me to try and re-produce what I had always done with my family.

“I thought – why not just go and do something completely different and surprise people; and stretch, it required me to stretch a little and be open-minded and open to different things, different ideas,” Rankin added.

She noted “it was liberating in that sense.”

“I am excited. I am terrified, but I am excited,” Rankin said.

For more information about Rankin, including tour dates, visit She also has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts.

Heather Rankin releases solo album A Fine Line, covers Tears for Fears


1st single features Fairview rapper Quake Matthews on anti-war hit Everybody Wants to Rule the World

By Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press Posted: Apr 01, 2016 10:38 AM AT Last Updated: Apr 01, 2016 3:49 PM AT

It’s an unlikely match — she’s a petite traditional singer from small-town Cape Breton with tidy hair, and he’s a sneaker-clad emcee who dons backwards hats and spits rhymes about his gritty Halifax suburb.

But the collaboration between Heather Rankin — of Cape Breton’s renowned Rankin Family — and rapper Quake Matthews proved so powerful she picked it as the first single from her debut solo album, A Fine Line, being released Friday.

The song, a cover of the 1985 Tears for Fears anti-war hit Everybody Wants To Rule The World, is one Rankin danced to as a teenager, but it took on a different meaning at this stage of her life, she said.

“All these years later it resonates with me in a different way,” said Rankin in her chiming soprano tones.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this song really makes a statement.’ But I wanted to do something with the song that set it apart from the original version.” Read More

The Lunchbox Interview: Heather Rankin

LunchBox-HeatherRankin-300x300CHSR Podcast
In some people, music is just simply in their home. They grow up with it as plentiful as water, as necessary as sleep, and as ubiquitous as snow in the winter.

Heather Rankin grew up listening, playing, singing and being music. After the success with her brothers and sisters, she returns with a solo album of her own, A Fine Line. Heather is my guest today, and we discuss life in such an incredible group, her desire to go in her own direction musically, and owning a pub in Mabou.

Busy spring ahead for Heather Rankin

The Reporter

MABOU: With an album, single and video hitting the public later this week and a high-profile hosting gig coming days later, Heather Rankin is gearing up for a busy spring.

The veteran singer-songwriter will co-host this year’s East Coast Music Awards gala with fellow Inverness County native Ashley MacIsaac on April 14 at Sydney’s Centre 200, prior to participating in the East Coast Music Week (ECMW) Songwriter’s Circle. These appearances come less than two weeks after Rankin releases her first solo album, A Fine Line, and the lead-off single and video, a cover of the 1985 Tears For Fears chart-topper “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

“I love that song,” Rankin told The Reporter during an interview from her Mabou home base.

“It follows the same thread as the rest of the songs [on the album] – how do we succeed in life without losing our integrity and maintaining balance?”
Read More

Heather Rankin – That Fine Line

Heather RankinCash Box Magazine Canada
Submitted by Bill King

We’ve visited places and declare never to return or check off a wish list. Then there is the unexpected – a place of authentic magic – a place we develop a surreal affection for. Sometimes it’s just the nature of things – others, the people and surroundings and others – all three. Cape Breton is my north, North America land love.

September 21, 2004 Ivan’s Hurricane force winds tapped Cape Breton. I had the marvellous opportunity to drive the long winding mountainous cliffs that rise over the rolling seas and travel the interior – the Cabot Trail – then hang tight through Hurricane Ivan – play chicken with a fierce ocean and meet the people. It’s the terrain and warm embraces – the picturesque villages that color memories trimmed in the eloquent natural light of a Vermeer painting.
Read More

A fine line for Mabou’s Heather Rankin

Cape Breton Post
Renowned singer-songwriter set to release debut solo album
SYDNEY — A veteran of the stage and studio, Heather Rankin is embarking on a new chapter in a career that’s been as diverse as it is successful.

More than 25 years after she rose to fame as a member of The Rankin Family, the Mabou native is set to release her debut solo album, “A Fine Line,” this Friday — kicking off a very busy April for the renowned Cape Breton singer, songwriter and actor.

In the works for three years, Rankin said she’s excited to get the album in the hands of fans.

“I’ve waited all this time and it’s finally here,” said Rankin, in an interview with the Cape Breton Post, Monday, just days ahead of the release.

Rankin said crafting her first solo musical project was a very different experience from recording as a member of The Rankin Family alongside siblings, Cookie, Jimmy, and the late John Morris and Raylene. Stepping outside her comfort zone, Rankin said it was both “terrifying and liberating” to go it alone on a solo album.
Read More

Eclectic spring lineup for Glasgow Square

The Advocate
NEW GLASGOW – Glasgow Square has announced a spring lineup that includes everything from music to dance and everything in between.
“We are very excited to host such an eclectic and high calibre line up for the spring season, “ says Carlton Munroe, Program & Events manager for the Town of New Glasgow.
“The Square is going to be bursting with music, theatre and dance. We are proud to offer top notch East Coast talent along with local performances and talent that rivals the best in the province.”
Kicking off the new season on April 2 is singer-songwriter Ashley George of Pictou who is releasing a new acoustic CD, “The Puzzle,” in a performance at the Green Room.
Read More

Rule the world with Heather Rankin — here’s how

February 26, 2016
Local Xpress

Want to rule the world with Heather Rankin?

The singer, who sold more than one million albums with her siblings as part of beloved Cape Breton group The Rankin Family, is set to release her first solo album, A Fine Line, on April 1.

The debut single, a cover of Tears for Fears’ 1985 hit Everybody Wants to Rule the World featuring Halifax hip-hop artist Quake Matthews, is already available. The pair soon head into the studio to film the music video, and Rankin is asking people to become part of it.

“Make it short, make it fun, make it awesome,” she says in her online invitation to fans to submit seven to 10 second clips.

Clips are due on Feb. 29 and Rankin says the invitation is open to everyone.

“We thought it would be a fun way to involve listeners and fans. People on social media have access to technology to tape themselves,” the energetic singer explains in a wide-ranging phone interview

“It can be anything that expresses how that particular person takes their power back.
Read More

The Chronicle Herald – Heather Rankin offers solo album, A Fine Line

Heather Rankin has toured the world, won Junos and CCMAs and sold over a million records with her siblings as part of the Rankin Family.

She’s sung with Carly Simon, worked as an actor in theatre, film and television, and owns the popular Red Shoe Pub in Mabou.

Now she’s releasing a solo album.

A Fine Line is available for pre-order on iTunes and via her website.

To help kick things off, Rankin hosts a live question and answer session on Facebook on Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Atlantic time.

Visit her official Facebook page ( and leave a question for her in the comments of the Q & A post. She will answer as many questions as possible. Wait until 6:30 p.m. to post questions.

Truro Daily News – East Coast Music Awards back to Sydney

Well-known singer and member of the Rankin Family, Heather Rankin pretty much brought the house down when she told people attending a press conference in Sydney on Tuesday about how she felt about East Coast Music Week returning to Cape Breton from April 13-17.

For Rankin, who will host the main awards show on April 14 with Ashley MacIsaac, the East Coast Music Awards were pivotal in advancing the successful careers of Rankin Family members.

Read More