Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Cape Breton Music: Remembering Raylene Rankin

 Cape Breton,  that island at the far north of Nova Scotia in Atlantic Canada, calls forth music in many of its sons and daughters. A distinctive music it is, too, shaped by wind and water and community, by Celtic heritage and  deep connection to Scotland. It is a music celebrated at home on the island and carried around the world by artists with names including MacIsaac, Chisholm, MacMaster, Beaton, Fraser, MacGillivray, MacNeil -- and Rankin.

Word comes that one of those voices is now stilled. Raylene Rankin, who made music all her life with her brothers and sisters, sharing her own unique musical gifts while also being part of her family band, has passed on at the age of 52.

One of my favorite albums by the Rankins is called North Country. It includes the fast paced traditional song Tell Me Ma, also known as The Belle of Belfast City,  Jimmy Rankin’s song about the handing on of tradition, called Fisherman’s Son, Raylene’s song Gillis Mountain,  the beautiful word picture of coming home to the north in the title track, and Rise Again, which became an iconic part of the band’s repertoire. Really all the songs on it are keepers.

Raylene Rankin of Mabou, Cape Breton, took the music of her family and her home place across the world. I was fortunate enough to hear her sing on Cape Breton and in Scotland.

Singing with the angel band now, Raylene.

you may also wish to see

North Country
 
friends and family remember Raylene Rankin from the Cape Breton Post

from the 1980s, a young Raylene sings My Love, Cape Breton, and Me
 
The Rankins singing and step dancing with Mairi's Wedding

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posted by Kerry Dexter at

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