Legacy of late Manitoba music icon Vince Fontaine carries on as band signs major-label deal

Late Manitoba musician Vince Fontaine’s dream of having his music heard on a more global scale will become a reality, thanks to a major-label deal for his band.

The Juno-nominated Indian City has announced a partnership with Warner Music Canada, which will re-release the band’s album Code Red this fall.

The folk-pop collaborative’s fourth studio album, released in 2021, was the last that Fontaine worked on before his sudden passing earlier this year.

The 60-year-old Canadian music icon — a member of Sagkeeng First Nation who co-founded the band Eagle & Hawk, in addition to performing with Indian City — suffered a heart attack and died in early January.

“After our devastating loss … we weren’t too certain of what the future of the band was going to be,” Indian City guitarist Jay Bodner told CBC Manitoba’s Information Radio Friday morning.

“We do not have one interaction without talking about Vince,” he says.

Two of the songs on the eight-track album feature prominent Canadian artists: Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, both Warner artists.

Warner Music Canada will re-release Code Red across all streaming platforms and digital retailers on Sept. 30.

Bodner says that Fontaine would have been thrilled about the partnership, and that being able to work with Warner Music has played an important role in the band’s grieving process.

“It’s bittersweet, of course, because Vince isn’t here to enjoy it with us.”

As part of the announcement, Indian City released a music video for their song Star People, which was filmed in Manitoba and features Cuddy on lead vocals.

The music video features a voice clip from Fontaine, recorded the day before he died. He introduces Star People as “a song about journey.”

Legacy won’t soon be forgotten

Since Fontaine’s passing, Manitoba Music has been reflecting on his impact on the music scene and his legacy.

The re-release of Code Red is an opportunity for more people to hear the band’s music and learn about Fontaine, says the executive director of the industry association.

With such a vast quantity of music available through streaming services, reaching audiences is “about having partners to help market that music,” said Sean McManus.

“It just makes a huge difference in terms of the reach that you can have.”

McManus remembers Fontaine as an dedicated mentor, who was always willing to work with other artists and share his expertise.

“His presence in this scene was was so important, so valuable … [it] will not soon be forgotten.”

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