Ila Barker

  • June 28, 2024
  • 8:00 pm
  • TD Main Stage - OLG Grove

Co-presented with International Indigenous Music Summit


In 2017, Winnipeg-based Anishinaabe and settler folk-soul musician Ila Barker held a guitar on her lap as a friend confided in her the details of an abusive relationship. Barker sang her friend’s words back to her, softly strumming the strings and turning anguish into a serendipitous self-serenade. Eventually that song became the title track of Barker’s debut full-length album, Fool Under Water, a tough-but-tender testament to the possibility of survival, forged as she swam ashore herself.

To write Fool Under Water, Barker spent seven years reflecting on her own survival, alongside that of the women around her. The elegantly rugged candor at the heart of the album’s storytelling was amassed through experience.

After years of writing, Barker recorded Fool Under Water at Winnipeg’s No Fun Club studio alongside producers Sierra Noble and Rusty Matyas in August 2021.

Barker has played the Regina Folk Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the sākihiwē festival, and opened for Jeremy Dutcher’s sold out performance at the Indian River Festival in PEI.

Through her work as founding curator with AIRsessions, a series of free music workshops for youth, Barker advocates for gender equity and Indigenous representation in music. “I have found a deeper connection with my community and the Indigenous music community through my music journey,” she says.