Joan Rankin: Famous Religious Singer
Mrs. Joan Helima Rankin is a proud Guyanese Hindu singer/harmonium musician who hails from the Island of Leguan. She is the fifth sibling of nine and the
offspring of Mr. Edmund Rankin and Mrs. Seelochanie Sewah Rankin. Mrs. Rankin grew up in a multi-religious environment with her dad being a Christian, mother being a Hindu, and some siblings being Muslim. Her family lived with no discrimination teaching her it is okay to understand and respect each other’s
beliefs and still live in harmony. Mr. Edmund was fond of education to its highest while Mrs. Seelochanie was fond of having someone follow her path and way of life, in terms of the temple. Mrs. Rankin was always given the free will of making her choice and she did, leading her all the way to becoming a proud
successful woman. Mrs. Rankin was first inspired by her maternal grandmother and aunt who decided to start taking her to the temple. The peace and serenity that she felt from just being in that atmosphere was magical. There was a woman in the temple singing and it made Mrs. Rankin melt and left in a trance that she wanted to experience more than once. Going constantly to the temple to
listen to the bhajans became a craving that she had no control over in the best possible way. In free moments, just sitting alone, she would find herself pouring her soul out singing these bhajans and learning them delightfully. A Hanuman event at the temple changed her life forever. Sitting in the mandir, while listening
to one of the bhajans being performed by a religious group, she realized she knew this bhajan and started singing along not knowing a member from the group was not only watching her but discovered her melodious voice as well. Instantaneously, she was requested to join the group to sing and she followed her heart and went up there and sang with all her might. The group was, without a doubt, impressed.
From the age of thirteen Mrs. Rankin began singing a lot in temples. However, she focused alot more on singing following the completion of her schooling. From the year 1983 to 2010 she evolved tremendously to performing movie, chutney and religious songs part time with different bands, some of which still exist up until today. In 1988 Mrs. Rankin got married to a dholak musician and sound engineer Mr. Suee Balgobin. Mrs. Rankin delivered her daughter Dhavina Balgobin in 1995 and her son Dinesh Balgobin in 1997.
She knew it was vital to be a responsible, outstanding mom and wife, therefore, sacrifice and dedication to her family was her number one priority. Both of her kids have followed her path partially in different ways. Her daughter sings and her son plays the dholak. After the year 2010, of which her kids are grown, she decided to work effortlessly on her singing career full time. The name of her own personal cultural group is Divya Sangeet. Mrs. Rankin decided to focus only on religious songs at temples and weddings. The road was that of a challenging one but no matter the obstacles she pulled through and kept head strong to accomplish her goals. Giving up is never an option according to her. Mrs. Rankin is happy with the path she chose, it also allowed her to perform not only in Guyana, but in Trinidad, Suriname and New York.
Mrs. Rankin thinks of Hinduism as a way of life and not specifically a religion. There is constant judgement of having different Gods. However, knowledge is important to gain, and reading and understanding each other’s cultures is vital to be able to live in peace and harmony with each other. The Bhagvad Gita teaches us this. Through singing, Mrs. Rankin has inspired a lot of persons in the Hindu community to follow what their heart desires. Also, she opened singing classes at her personal home to give back to the community. For her, it is not just about singing, it is important to learn every melody and every note. Practice makes perfect and sacrifice is a must.
Mrs. Rankin thanks her mom and her first teacher Mrs. Irene Pariaug who encouraged her to sing and guided her. “You must love what you do so that you can be the best at it” is her advice to all.