In a remarkable recording career that spans three and a half decades, Kenny Rankin has established an impressive set of creative credentials, as an insightful songwriter, a distinctive guitarist and, above all, a world-class singer possessing an uncanny ability to cut straight to a song’s emotional heart.
While his supple, pristine tenor has earned him status as a singer’s singer, Rankin’s songwriting talents have been widely recognized by his peers. For example, his “In the Name of Love” inspired a memorable version by Peggy Lee, while his “Haven’t We Met” has been cut by a number of jazz and pop artists including Carmen McRae and Mel Torme. Other Rankin compositions have been covered by a diverse assortment of artists.
Growing up in the multicultural hotbed of New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, he absorbed a broad array of musical influences, from AfroCuban to Top 40 to Jazz to Brazilian. But he traces his emergence as a performer to a specific childhood epiphany. “I was in the fourth grade and sang ‘O Holy Night’ in a Christmas play,” he recalls. “My teacher, Miss Isabel Pringle, came over to me and patted me on the head and said ‘Kenneth, that was lovely.’ She set me on the path in music that I find myself on today.”
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