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Music instructor receives Best of the Beat Lifetime Achievement Award

March 2, 2012

John Rankin, guitar and music industry studies instructor at Loyola University New Orleans, was recently awarded the 2011 Best of the Beat: Lifetime Achievement in Music Education Award. Sponsored by OffBeat Magazine, the Best of the Beat Awards pay tribute to those who are voted the best in a variety of musical categories and genres.

Rankin, a regular performer who can often be found playing alongside jazz musicians like Tom Fischer, Jesse Boyd and Don Vappie, has been a fixture at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for more than 30 years. He is also the go-to musician for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra when they need a guitar or banjo player.

An adjunct faculty member at Loyola since 1985, Rankin has served in similar positions at most universities in New Orleans, including Tulane and Xavier universities, as well as the University of New Orleans. He also teaches private lessons to students at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

A North Carolina native, Rankin’s family moved to New Orleans when he was nine years old, and he began playing guitar at 14 on an old guitar his mom found in the French Market. Self-taught to begin with, the left-handed guitarist eventually went on to receive his master’s degree in classical guitar from Tulane University.

According to local guitarist and songwriter Paul Sanchez in a recent interview with Offbeat Magazine, Rankin is noted for his influence on fellow professional musicians as much as he is his students. “I think that his impact on the players in this city and around the country is more far reaching than he would admit,” Sanchez said. “He’d be the last to tell you. You could ask a dozen guys and they’d say, ‘Yeah man, John Rankin really had an impact on me.’”

Profoundly influenced by the music of New Orleans, Rankin has released several CDs, including his most recent release in 2010, "The Classic Jazz Trio,” a small ensemble look at New Orleans jazz. In 2008, he released “Last in April First in May,” an all instrumental guitar album of mostly originals, and in 2005 he released “Fess’ Mess,” featuring a variety of New Orleans music with an emphasis on vocal arrangements. In 2002 Rankin released “Guitar Gumbo,” a CD of New Orleans music in a variety of styles played on solo acoustic guitar, which was voted a top 10 Louisiana CD for 2002 by Gambit Weekly and a top 20 Louisiana CD for 2002 by The Times-Picayune.

Rankin was the second-place award winner for the 1985 American Fingerstyle Guitar Festival, and in 1992 and 2003, won the Big Easy Award for best folk music. He is currently working on his next CD of all original singer-songwriter material.

For more information, contact Rankin at 504-865-2366 or jrankin@loyno.edu.

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