As a child living in the multicultural melting pot of New York City's Washington Heights, Kenny Rankin was exposed to a wide range of musical influences firsthand, from the popular sounds of American Top 40 hits and Jazz to the more culturally exotic… Read more
As a child living in the multicultural melting pot of New York City's Washington Heights, Kenny Rankin was exposed to a wide range of musical influences firsthand, from the popular sounds of American Top 40 hits and Jazz to the more culturally exotic fare of Brazilian and AfroCuban street musicians. As a teenager, Rankin began applying all these influences to his own music and began establishing himself as an insightful songwriter, a gifted acoustic guitarist and above all, an undeniably compelling world-class vocalist. With his supple, pristine tenor and an uncanny knack for phrasing, Rankin possessed the ability to cut right to a song's emotional heart with a voice much like a musical instrument in and of itself.
In the early 1960s, Rankin initially signed with Decca Records, releasing several obscure singles. By the middle of the decade, the more prestigious Columbia Records label signed Rankin, where he found himself playing guitar on the sessions for Bob Dylan's pivotal Bringing It All Back Home album. His first significant public exposure occurred soon thereafter, when he was invited to perform on The Tonight Show. The shows' host, Johnny Carson, was so smitten by Rankin's talent that he would invite him to perform on the show more than 20 times during the late 1960s. Carson would even contribute liner notes to his 1967 debut album, Mind Dusters. In 1972, Rankin signed with his third label, Little David Records, distributed through Atlantic Records and it was the initial release, Like A Seed, that began revealing the true depth of his talent.
Despite his impressive creative credentials and television exposure, it wasn't until nearly a decade later that Rankin would be fully appreciated beyond his musical peers. Over the course of his albums, Like a Seed, Inside, and most notably, 1975's Silver Morning, Rankin achieved a new level of artistry, as his folk tinge gave way to a jazzier, more polished style that was flawless in execution and incredibly emotive.