About | À propos


Himmat Singh Shinhat is a multidisciplinary artist. His creative expression is based on the interweaving of three disciplines – music, story-telling and performance.

The inspiration for his artistic endeavours comes from his Indian ancestry and cultural heritage as well as the experiences and knowledge acquired through a series of migrations.

The first-born grandchild on his mother’s side, Himmat’s journey across the so-called “Commonwealth” began in Agra, in post-Partition India. He departed thence to Wolverhampton, England with his parents at the age of three. Shortly after reaching the age of 18, he moved to Turtle Island (Canada).

He has made his home on the banks of Kaniatarowanenneh (the St-Lawrence river), as a settler on the unceded Indigenous territory of Tiohtià:ke (Montreal).

A composer and a professional musician by training, his work has been featured in solo performances, soundtracks for theatre, film, contemporary dance and performance art. His musical compositions constitute a fusion of his influences and the tensions between them. His work is informed by his education in western classical music; the Sikh religious music, Bollywood soundtracks, Indian classical and folk musics that would play in his childhood home; and contemporary popular music, in particular the British Art Rock movement of the 1970s.

Himmat’s creative writing has been featured in articles, reviews and short stories. In collaboration with his mother, Surjit Kaur Shinhat, Himmat has also published a series of children’s story books that present episodes from Sikh history in English, French and Punjabi. Himmat has a lifetime of experience as a professional policy maker with the Public Service of Canada, where much of his work was also through writing, dealing with issues of human rights, refugee protection, immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism.

Himmat’s performance skills have been honed through decades as a band leader/member, actor, and solo stage performer for a series of musical groups, rock bands, theatre arts groups, and other artist collectives. He has participated in presentations of theatre, music and performance across Canada both at individual events and in the context of arts/culture festivals.

Himmat has also taken a leadership role in building and supporting arts infrastructure in Montreal. He is is a co-founder and past president of Montreal Serai, and cofounder and board member of the Festival Accès-Asie. He is also a member of the board for Montreal Arts Interculturels and past president of the Centre Culturel et Communautaire Henri-Lemieux.

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Himmat Singh Shinhat est un artiste multidisciplinaire. Son expression créative est tissée de trois disciplines – la musique, le conte, et la performance.

L’inspiration pour sa création artistique vient de son ascendance indienne et de son héritage culturel ainsi que des expériences et des connaissances acquises à travers une série de migrations.

Petit-enfant premier-né du côté de sa mère, le voyage de Himmat à travers le soi-disant «Commonwealth» a commencé dans la ville d’Agra, dans l’Inde après-Partition. À l’âge de trois ans, il est parti de là avec ses parents pour la ville de Wolverhampton, en Angleterre. Peu de temps après avoir atteint l’âge de 18 ans, il a déménagé à l’Île de la Tortue (le Canada).

Il s’est établit sur la rive de Kaniatarowanenneh (le fleuve Saint-Laurent), sur le territoire autochtone non cédé de Tiohtià: ke (Montréal).

Compositeur et musicien professionnel de formation, son travail a été présenté dans des performances solos, des bandes sonores pour le théâtre, le cinéma, la danse contemporaine et l’art de la performance. Ses compositions musicales constituent une fusion de ses influences et des tensions entre elles. Sa création est orientée par son éducation dans la musique classique occidentale; la musique religieuse Sikh, les bandes sonores de Bollywood, les musiques classiques et folkloriques indiennes qui jouaient dans sa maison d’enfance; et la musique populaire contemporaine, en particulier le mouvement britannique du “Art Rock” des années 1970.

La création littéraire de Himmat a été présentée dans des articles, des critiques et des contes. En collaboration avec sa mère, Surjit Kaur Shinhat, Himmat a également publié une série de contes pour enfants présentant des épisodes de l’histoire sikh en anglais, en français et en punjabi. Himmat a toute une vie d’expérience dans l’élaboration de politiques à la fonction publique du Canada, où une grande partie de son travail se faisait également par écrit, traitant de questions de droits de la personne, de protection des réfugiés, d’immigration, de citoyenneté et de multiculturalisme.

Les compétences de Himmat en matière de performance ont été perfectionnées au fil des décennies en tant que leader/membre de groupe de musique, acteur et interprète solo pour une série de formations musicales, groupes de rock, groupes de théâtre et autres collectifs d’artistes. Il a participé à des présentations de théâtre, de musique et de performance à travers le Canada à la fois lors d’événements individuels et dans le contexte de festivals artistiques et culturels.

Himmat a également joué un rôle de leadership dans la construction et le soutien des infrastructures artistiques à Montréal. Il est co-fondateur et ancien président de Montreal Serai, et co-fondateur et membre du conseil d’administration du Festival Accès-Asie. Il est également membre du conseil d’administration de Montréal Arts Interculturels et ancien président du Centre Culturel et Communautaire Henri-Lemieux.

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Solo Performances

Composed, recorded and performed a series of works dealing with issues of culture, identity, gender and race using original music, spoken word narratives and images. Presentations made at a variety of festivals and other performance events from the 1980s through to the present. Several presentations at Festival Accès-Asie (Montreal Asian Heritage Festival) through the 1990s. Presented on a number of occasions at Desh Pardesh, annual Toronto-based South Asian Arts and Culture Festival through the 1990s both solo performances and with Montreal Serai. A series of presentations with Saathi, Montreal South Asian Queer Artist Collective through the 1990s and 2000s. In 2017, presented one-and-a-half-hour solo musical performance at la Salle du Grand Sault, the concert hall of the Centre culturel et communautaire Henri-Lemieux, LaSalle, Quebec.

Film Soundtrack

Composed and performed music for National Film Board of Canada production, Welcome to Canada (1986) by John Smith.

Music for Modern Dance/Performance Art

Composed, performed and recorded music and did sound design for domestic and international premieres of modern dance production, Burning Skin (1992, 1993), by choreographer, Roger Sinha.  The recording was subsequently featured on the CBC’s Adrienne Clarkson Presents show and toured across the world through 1993 and 1994. Composed, arranged, performed and recorded music for transgender performance artist, Atif Siddiqi for various presentations through the 1990s to the present.

Theatre Soundtracks +

Composed, recorded and performed soundtrack and incidental music and did sound design for theatre and other performances by Teesri Duniya and Montreal Serai in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Also acted in and provided technical support (sound and lighting) for many of the presentations: The Great Celestial Cow (1985), Job Stealer (1987), Baba Jacques Dass and Turmoil at Côte-des-neiges Cemetery (1987), Some Dogs (1988), On the Double (1988), The Komagata Maru Incident (1988, 1989), Nobody Gets Laid (1990), The Death of Abbie Hoffman, 5 or 6 Characters in Search of Toronto (1993, 1994), and The Sulpician Escarpment (1995).

Popular Music

Composition, recording and performance, lead guitar and vocals for the Alpha Jerks and the Popular Front, Montreal-based pop/rock/punk/alternative bands. Performed in rock music venues across Quebec through the 1980s; professional management: Music Market. 

Indian Popular Music/Bollywood

Performance, arrangement, lead guitar and vocals for a mixed group of musicians (both from within and outside of the Montreal South Asian community). Performed in a wide variety of venues in Montreal through the 1980s and into the 1990s.

Multidisciplinary Arts

Although my primary discipline was music, I have engaged in a number of other arts disciplines that support and complement my work in music. I have written short stories, poems and informative articles that have appeared in Montreal Serai and other publications. I also have strong experience with visual and graphic design and designed the logo presently used for Festival Accès-Asie as well as posters and other promotional items. I also designed and maintained the festival web presence through the 1990s.


Arts Infrastructure

Throughout my career, I have extensive experience with the creation, development, establishment and maintenance of a diverse array of arts organizations and collectives. Some of the organizations for which I am a co-founder, past/present board member and have played a leadership role in include Festival Accès-Asie(1995-2000, 2018-present), Teesri Duniya (1980s), Montreal Serai (1980s-1990s) and Saathi (1990s). I am also a past board member (2016-2017) and president of the Centre culturel et communautaire Henri-Lemieux in LaSalle, Quebec, a cultural centre funded by the Montreal borough of LaSalle. Most recently, I am also a member of the board of Montreal, Arts Interculturels (MAI).


My experience as a member of the Canadian federal civil service from 1986-2016 with the department of Citizenship and Immigration, includes a decade’s worth of experience with the federal multiculturalism program. As Regional Director, Programs & Partnerships, Eastern Region (Quebec and Atlantic provinces) from 2009-2013, I was responsible for the administration of the Interaction grants and contributions program. In this capacity, I directed evaluation and assessment of regional funding applications for artistic or cultural activities or presentations and recommendations/referrals to ministers and senior government officials. Similarly, as Director, Multiculturalism Policy from2014-2015, I was responsible for the administration of federal multiculturalism policy for the Interaction funding program across Canada.


Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music

Grade VIII – Piano, Grade V – Violin, and Grade V – Theory of Music

Concordia University

Bachelor of Commerce, Major in Marketing