Heather Rankin was born in the picturesque village of Mabou, Cape Breton, the eleventh of Buddy and Kaye Rankin’s twelve children. Mabou is rich in Gaelic culture and tradition; a place where Celtic music and dance is tightly interwoven in the lives of its community.
In 1989, Heather came together with her siblings, John Morris, Raylene, Jimmy and Cookie to form The Rankin Family, and to record their debut record of the same name. For the next decade the group released five full albums, a five song EP and two compilations of their most popular songs. They toured extensively, playing to sold-out houses and at festivals across the country and around the world, they won a multitude of awards, including six Juno Awards, three East Coast Music Awards, three Canadian Country Music Awards and fifteen East Coast Music Awards, and had several of their records certified Platinum by CRIA. They were guests on Rita MacNeil’s variety show, Rita and Friends, and on Anne Murray’s Television Special Anne Murray in Nova Scotia and were featured on Garrison Keillor’s radio program Prairie Home Companion. In 1995 they performed at the Bottom Line in New York for a televised documentary called The Rankin Family Backstage Pass and in 1996 Heather and her siblings received Honorary Doctorates in Music from Acadia University. The Rankin’s fifth studio album, Uprooted, was the first to include one of Heather’s original songs, “Cold Winds.” In September, 1999 the band decided to go their separate ways and to pursue disparate projects.
Heather and her sisters, Raylene and Cookie, released a Christmas record in 1997, which included one of Heather’s original songs, “The Christmas Star.” The girls took their Christmas music on tour across the country almost every holiday season until 2010, sometimes playing with Canadian Symphonies. They made two Television Specials: A Rankin Christmas Cabaret and Home For Christmas. In 1999 Heather went to Scotland and Ireland to cohost a documentary about Celtic Music, called Celtic Tides. The next year Heather, Raylene and Cookie were invited to Martha’s Vineyard to record background vocals for Carly Simon’s record The Bedroom Tapes. Heather accompanied Simon during her Promotional Tour, which included performances on The View, Good Morning America and The Rosie O’Donnell Show, as well as a concert in Bryant Park, during which Heather sang backup vocals on Simon’s hit song “You’re So Vain.”
In 2007 Heather, Raylene, Jimmy and Cookie reunited and released their sixth studio album with EMI, Reunion, which featured Heather’s original song “Nothing to Believe In.” Their seventh, These Are The Moments, was released in 2009, and included Heather’s song “I Would.” They toured between 2007 and 2012 and in 2013 The Rankin Family received a special 25th Anniversary Music Award at the East Coast Music Awards in Halifax.
Heather’s voice has been featured as a guest artist on a multitude of albums, including Will Ackerman’s Grammy Award winning Hearing Voices. She, Jimmy and Cookie sing on the track “Go Tell It On The Mountain” on Johnny Reid’s Platinum Edition of his album A Christmas Gift to You and they appear with Natalie MacMaster in the music video, which was shot in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Heather, Cookie and Jimmy rang in 2014 performing in Summerside at the New Year’s Eve Finale with Burton Cummings and Doc Walker.
Her latest record will be released April 1st, 2016 on Maple Music Recordings. As a solo artist Heather has performed with Bruce Guthro, Lennie Gallant, Dave Gunning, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. Coming up, in April Heather is set to cohost the East Coast Music Awards Gala in Sydney, Nova Scotia with Ashley MacIsaac.