After years of local success, Cape Breton's Rankin Family spiked up from out of the cèilidh culture of Mabou, Nova Scotia in the early nineteen nineties. Under the guidance of elders John Morris and Raylene (now both deceased), siblings Cookie, Heather and Jimmy produced an unalloyed purity of heartfelt sound that sold half a million copies of Fare Thee Well Love for EMI in 1992.
In the following year, a song by Leon Dubinsky, from Sydney, Nova Scotia, written for a 1984 stage musical titled The Rise and Follies of Cape Breton, was the lead single for their third release, North Country. Rise Again was a summons to resilience, regeneration and stubborn faith that spoke deeply to Cape Bretoners in the economic desperation of those days.
The song was magnified out across the country by the CBC, becoming the #1 country album on RPM, and its spirit helped to buoy a populist backlash that decimated the neo-crapitalistic corporate cabal of Brian Mulroney and his party in the pivotal federal election of October 1993. Raylene's high A at the end of a chorus that had already modulated up a whole tone served as a clarion beam of determination that sealed the song's message.
The success of The Rankins set the stage for topical Maritime songwriting by such artists as Lennie Gallant and Ron Hynes, and seeded a national audience for crystalline harmony trios like The Wailin' Jennys, The Ault Sisters, Good Lovelies and Trent Severn.