Vince Fontaine is a musician, producer, and festival curator based in Winnipeg, Canada and one of Canada’s most important Indigenous composers. Celebrated for his creative direction of multi-award winning band Eagle & Hawk and his talented collective Indian City, Fontaine’s career abounds with awards and recognition.
Eagle & Hawk
Fontaine began as a guitar player and in 1994, teamed up with Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ kicker Troy Westwood. Together Fontaine and Westwood formed the basis of what would be Canada’s most celebrated and internationally toured Indigenous band, Eagle & Hawk.
To date, Eagle & Hawk has received 75 nominations and over 30 wins at awards ceremonies across North America, including a Juno Award, two Western Canadian Music Awards, nine Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, three Native American Music Awards, seven Indian Summer Music Awards, and 10 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards including 2008 Aboriginal Entertainer of the Year and 2009 Best Group and Best Rock Album. In 2010, Eagle & Hawk won Best Group of the Year and Best Album of the Year for their renowned album The Great Unknown at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.
Fontaine toured Europe more than a dozen times with Eagle & Hawk and played some of the largest stages in North America including invitations to Capital Hill on Canada Day (years), 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Indian Summer Fest in Milwaukee and the 2012 New Orleans Jazz Festival to name a few, along with numerous TV appearances.
Also in demand for composition, Fontaine connected with renowned Toronto-based composer and arranger Charles Cozens to create a 70-minute symphony arrangement for some of Eagle & Hawk’s most recognizable music repertoire. In 2009, Eagle & Hawk performed their first ever symphony show with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and has since been invited back for numerous encore performances. In 2014, Fontaine was also called upon to compose a musical score in its entirety for Canada’s Indspire Awards.
In the midst of his success with Eagle & Hawk, Fontaine used his knowledge of the entertainment industry and experience building strong teams to become Festival Manager for the 2002 North American Indigenous Games Opening Ceremonies in Winnipeg, 10 nights of entertainment at the cultural and historic heart of Winnipeg, The Forks. This sparked the addition of festival curator to Fontaine’s list of talents. Fontaine excelled in this field and sat as Music Festival Manager for the ManitoAhbee Festival from 2006 to 2009. He also produced live events for the Assembly of First Nations across Canada for over a decade. Vince was the Festival Manager for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's Indigenous Festival from 2009-2011
In 2011, Fontaine’s focus returned to his personal artistry as he released his first solo album Songs for Turtle Island, a record exploring Indigenous stories and themes alongside a fusion of Indigenous, contemporary and classical instrumentation. The album earned him a 2011 Native American Music Award for Best Instrumental Album and nominations at the Western Canadian Music Awards, the Canadian Folk Music Awards, the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards and the Indian Summer Music Awards. The year ended on a strong note with Fontaine licensing his songs to TSN, APTN, Showtime and Sony Music and also the launch of his newest project - Indian City.
Indian City was founded by Vince Fontaine of Eagle & Hawk in December of 2011. In 2012, they were “barely off the ground and … nominated for 13 awards at the 2012 APCMA's, Indian Summer Music Awards and WCMA's.” (CBC)
Fontaine’s Indian City blast onto the Winnipeg music scene with their debut CD release Supernation. Building on several award wins for his first solo release Songs For Turtle lsland, Fontaine was ready to deliver a new band with big vision for an entertaining live show.
Continuing his development as an artist, Fontaine’s new band came with new sounds, incorporating elements of contemporary pop, rock and electronic music alongside traditional Indigenous themes and layers.
Collaborating with what he considers to be some of the very best Indigenous talent, Indian City is the realization of a creative concept and vision that has been taking shape in Fontaine’s mind for the (over five) years. Indian City features band leader Vince Fontaine (guitar), alongside remarkable Winnipeg-based Indigenous talents Jeremy Koz and Christy Neveu (lead vocals), Atik Masson (bass), Neewa Mason (vocals and keys), and Alec Friesen (drums). With these artists in place, Fontaine’s vision has been realized. In 2014, Indian City walked away with four nominations and the Songwriter of the Year award at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards.
Ideals and Community Connections
Fontaine’s drive to continue in the music industry is propelled by his palpable passion for sharing the beauty of Canada’s Indigenous culture. Always strong and always with intent, his songwriting carries Indigenous stories, imagery and spirituality and connects these ideals with audiences of today’s ever-changing world.
Fontaine has been celebrated as a contender in the musical arena for over 20 years, and in addition to his musical presence, he has been recognized as a supportive community leader. In 2008, Fontaine was the recipient of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s prestigious Making A Mark Award presented at the Mayor’s Arts Luncheon. Fontaine is also a regular in the annual JUNO Cup where NHL greats and Canadian musicians face off in a fun, competitive, non-contact hockey game in support of the Canadian music education charity, MusiCounts.
Additional points for potential inclusion - further details needed on:
1996 Olympics and 1994 Goodwill Games
“It's one thing to be a part of a Juno award winning rock band (Eagle & Hawk). It's another thing to start a new band (Indian City) and realize this grouping has the potential to be as strong if not stronger than the first one.” – Sandy Thacker (CBC, 2012)
“Indian City was formed by Vince Fontaine of Eagle and Hawk in December of 2011. They're barely off the ground and yet they've been nominated for 13 awards at the 2012 APCMA's, Indian Summer Music Awards and WCMA's.” – Sandy Thacker (CBC, 2012)
“(Eagle & Hawk) steamrolled awards shows, toured Europe and released 10 albums.”
– Melissa Martin (Winnipeg Free Press, 2012)
“My purpose is to lift up Indigenous people of North America and show the beauty, existence, splendor and mystique of our culture.”
- Vince Fontaine