With soul and voice as smooth as warm honey, singer songwriter Ila Barker captures audiences with her sweet melodies and dynamic presence. Ila is of mixed Anishinaabe and settler heritage with roots running deep in the Manitoban prairies, seasoning her craft with rich history and powerful textures. Coming from a long line of storytellers, she fuses authentic and timeless notes creating moments of serenity and blissful escape. Ila has brought her craft to an array of national festivals and stages including the Regina Folk Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the sākihiwē festival. In the summer of 2019, Ila opened up a sold out show for Jeremy Dutcher at the Indian River Festival in PEI.
In February 2020, Ila released the “Let Go” single, an atmospheric and stripped down collaboration with UK-based artist Milan André that was recorded off the floor in one take in the northern Cree nation of Nemaska, Quebec. “Let Go” landed on the National Indigenous Music Countdown, and climbed up the charts for three months straight hitting the top 15. Currently Ila is in the planning stages of a future release.
Ila first got her start when she was awarded first place in the NCI Jam in 2011 for her original song “The Tree Song”. In 2013, Ila released her debut self-titled EP which continues to be heard on radio and satellite stations across North America. Her songs “Home” and “Complete” charted on the Indigenous Music Countdown and both hit the #1 spot quickly.
Having started her career organically, Ila keeps roots in the community by offering and participating in artistic and professional development workshops and local art initiatives. Currently, Ila is sitting on the Manitoba Music Indigenous Music Steering Committee and the FACTOR Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She created and facilitates a nationally-funded local music workshop program called AIRsessions, which primarily hires local Indigenous artists, and delivers mentorship to youth ages 13-25. During the school year she works with Indigenous youth in Cree communities in northern Quebec, teaching songwriting and music production.