Mailing List
Subscribe to Heather's mailing list for the latest news, performances, and more...

Available Now
Purchase: iTunes | Google Play
Appearing Live

No shows booked at the moment.

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.”

Swapping slang with rapper

Enter Matthews, a 27-year-old emcee from the Halifax neighbourhood of Fairview whose rapping has caught the ear of international star Drake, and whose videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.

The Halifax-based Rankin said Matthews’ verse makes the song more personal and contemporary.

“The lyric of the song comes from kind of a dark place. I think the original lyric was actually ‘Everybody wants to go to war,'” said the 48-year-old Rankin, who was introduced to Matthews through singer-songwriter Dylan Guthro.

“We needed something that lightens it, that personalizes it. I thought, ‘What a good idea it would be to have somebody rap on it and create some other diversion in the story.'”

The unexpected partnership took even Matthews by surprise, but he revelled in the opportunity to spit a verse for the legendary Cape Breton singer, he said.

3 years in the making

“I heard what she did and I loved it so I was just honoured to be a part of it,” said Matthews as Rankin shot him an endearing smile and rested her head on his shoulder.

“I didn’t know how it was going to be, but we were just laughing the whole time and joking around. I was teaching her some slang and she was teaching me some Cape Breton slang.”

A Fine Line has been three years in the making and features Rankin’s acclaimed vocal range on a mix of both pop and traditional songs.

“The theme of the album is that challenge that we all face in being our authentic selves and that quest for balance as we walk the fine line,” said Rankin, who co-wrote seven of the 11 tracks on the album.

Rankin, who grew up in the tiny coastal community of Mabou, has won 15 East Coast Music Awards and six Juno Awards with the Rankin Family. She said stepping out on her own was a challenge.

Venturing out on her own

“When you’re in a family band, it’s a really safe environment. I was very sheltered all my life in that environment with lots of people supporting me,” said Rankin, who’s set to host this year’s ECMA gala with Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac on April 14 in Sydney, N.S.

“When you set out on your own, you’re making the decisions and that can be scary, but very liberating too. I think I’ve grown a lot every step of this process.”

Siblings Jimmy and Cookie Rankin do make an appearance on her album, singing backup on We Walk As One — a tribute to her Cape Breton roots.

Rankin said the solo experience was also empowering for her as a woman.

“There’s this perception that at a certain age, women have less value or that we stop being creative or we stop exploring new things,” she said. “I hope to encourage other women to take that leap.”