Ila Barker

Folk Indigenous Singer/songwriter Soul

Ila Barker


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. “My first thought as I started packing my bags to leave was ‘what am I going to do?’” says Barker. “My second thought was ‘but damn, these are gonna be some good songs.’”

Barker’s astute observations and vulnerable introspection create a safe basin for those still swimming their way through rough waters. “I want listeners to have a moment to grieve the things that they've gone through and to picture a future that is brighter,” she says. 

On lead single “Intuition,” Barker sagely sings “Trust yourself, you know best,” reminding all of us to listen closely to our own truths when we feel we might be sinking. 

After years of writing, Barker recorded Fool Under Water at Winnipeg’s No Fun Club studio alongside producers Sierra Noble and Rusty Robot in August 2021. “A lot of people think I took a break from music. The truth is I was in survival mode,” she says. 

Barker has played the Regina Folk Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the sākihiwē festival, and opened for Jeremy Dutcher’s sold out performance PEI. The first single off her debut full-length album “Intuition”, hit number one on the Indigenous Music Countdown. In August the second single “25” was released along with a music video filmed in Mexico and directed by Patrick Shannon of InnoNative which premiered on Entertainment Tonight Canada. 

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. 

Fool Under Water is an honour song to Ila Barker’s metamorphosis into the powerhouse she is today and a promise that the tide will turn.




"Let Go - Ila Barker & Milan André"






"I'm Fine"


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Talking Stick | "Circles" by Ila Barker

Fool Under Water by Ila Barker

25 by Ila Barker

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Intuition by Ila Barker

Festival du Voyageur 2022 | Ila Barker by Ila Barker

Ila Barker - Vulnerable || sākihiwē festival 2021 by Ila Barker


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