Canada's Rankin Family got their start singing and dancing in their hometown of Mabou, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Pianist/fiddler John Morris, guitarist/vocalist Jimmy, and singers Raylene, Carol Jean (aka Cookie), and Heather developed a unique blend of Celtic traditionalism and contemporary folk and pop, dominated by the effortless harmonies of the Rankin sisters. In 1989 the combo recorded and self-released its debut and traveled throughout Eastern Canada, promoting it with performances at folk festivals and the like. A year later they issued their second recording, Fare Thee Well Love. The Rankin Family signed with EMI in 1992 and re-released their first two recordings. North Country followed a year later. The album was the best representation yet of the Rankins' mix of folk and traditional Gaelic songs and arrangements. After 1995's Grey Dusk of Eve EP, Endless Seasons appeared. Produced by John Jennings (Mary Chapin Carpenter), the album was a much more polished affair and incorporated a significant amount of original songwriting. Uprooted followed in 1998. Recorded principally in Nashville, the album included country-tinged material as well as experiments with expanded instrumentation and spoken word.
The Rankin Family ceased performing as a unit in September 1999. Cookie went on to a solo career, Heather dabbled in acting, and Jimmy continued to work as a songwriter (he would go on to release Song Dog in 2001). Just a few months after the announcement, John Morris was killed in a traffic accident in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He was 40 years old. ~ Johnny Loftus