“My purpose is to lift up Indigenous people of North America and show the beauty, existence, splendor and mystique of our culture. I want to be a musical beacon and cultural ambassador. My artistic vision is to bring cultural voice and excellence to the live stage.” — Vince Fontaine
For more than 30 years, Vince Fontaine has been at the forefront of Indigenous music making in Canada. Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the multifaceted, award-winning and visionary Fontaine literally has done it all. He is a guitarist, songwriter, music builder/producer, festival curator/organizer/artistic director, film director and entertainment business owner. He also is one of Canada’s most highly celebrated Indigenous composers.
Among his most significant and well-known ventures, Fontaine is the founder and lead guitarist of the legendary, award-winning roots-rock band Eagle & Hawk, one of the longest-running success stories in Canadian music history. The band, which has released nine studio albums since 1997, is known for its innovative fusion of Indigenous themes and sound that has become the foundation of Fontaine’s signature artistic direction. The band’s notable appearances include two performances at the famed New Orleans Jazz Fest (2011, 2015), Summerfest, folk festivals across North America, and many televised performances in North America and Europe.
In 2002, Fontaine’s vast knowledge of the entertainment industry and experience building strong music teams for live events led to his selection as Cultural/Festival Manager for the North American Indigenous Games, where he organized the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Winnipeg, and two weeks of entertainment at the cultural and historic heart of Winnipeg, The Forks. Excelling in the field of festival management, Fontaine started producing live music events of Indigenous music traditions to concert stages across North America.
Fontaine’s music collective, the award-winning Indian City, which he formed in 2012, has released three albums to date. In 2013, Fontaine produced a live 70-minute performance with Indian City and a cast of feature performers, which became the blueprint for Vince Fontaine's Indian City Live. In 2016 Indian City Live performed on Canada’s Parliament Hill to a live audience of 50,000 and a TV audience of more than 5 million. This historic event was the largest cultural and Indigenous gathering that has ever been held in North America. Most recently, he served as Creative Director of the 2021 Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards, and was responsible for launching the awards program under his guidance and creative and artistic vision.
As a solo artist, Fontaine released “Songs for Turtle Island” in 2011. The album explored Indigenous themes and instrumentation. Among his many honours over the years, Fontaine received an award for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards. In 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Indian Summer Music Festival. He was inducted into the Manitoba Music Hall of Fame in 2017.
In 2020, Fontaine wrote and co-directed “Eagle & Hawk Take the Stage,” an award-winning documentary produced in association with CBC that chronicled his life and his prolific music career. The documentary, which aired on national television, shared Fontaine’s music and his commitment to cultural bridge building through his art, while showcasing Eagle & Hawk’s rise to fame and enthusiastic, widespread international renown.
As President and founder of his entertainment company Rising Sun Productions, Inc., Fontaine is dedicated to representing and advancing the careers of future generations of Indigenous talent. His drive to continue in the music industry is propelled by his palpable passion and conviction to share the beauty and importance of Canada’s Indigenous cultures. Always strong and always with intent, Fontaine’s songwriting and every aspect of his art and creativity carries Indigenous stories, imagery and spirituality, and connects these ideals with audiences of today’s ever-changing world.