Jess Hawk Oakenstar is a widely traveled solo guitarist/singer/songwriter who was born and raised in Zimbabwe.
After leaving university, she entertained in hotel and resort environments in Natal, South Africa before being hit with the travel bug and moving to Great Britain for two years.
From there she traveled to New Zealand, where she lived for ten years, performing and touring nationally as a singer/songwriter in concerts and revues, while also honing her cover repertoire in saloon bands and as a solo artist.
In 1990 she worked her passage to the US aboard a German container ship, and from then until late 1996 she toured constantly, both nationally (36 states across the country) and internationally (in Australia and New Zealand) as a singer/songwriter.
She was a national songwriter finalist at the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas, and her music has been heard in the US on over 100 radio stations including the syndicated "River City Folk" and "The Songbag".
She has also received much critical acclaim for her two albums, "Leave a Little Light Behind" and "Your Heart Will Show You", both of which were produced by Jeff Dayton, band leader for Glen Campbell. She was also featured on "A Love Worth Fighting For", a compilation album which included such artists as Janis Ian and Ani DiFranco.
Jess currently resides in Phoenix, AZ, and works regularly as a solo performer, as well as being part of a duo, Wayward Maggie.
Robert Baird, New Times (Phoenix) Sept. '93
The acid test of any singer-songwriter album lies in the songwriting, and Oakenstar passes with flying chords...Clearly, this is a big-time talent waiting to happen.
Eddie Russell, Country Eastern West, Sept '93
(A)fter the last note sounded, I was left with the feeling that I had really heard something. (W)ell written and performed songs delivered right to the target of the heart, and remains still. Side B is 5 stars of beauty.
Malcolm Finlayson, New Zealand Country Music Magazine, Feb '93
Oakenstar has a strong clear voice almost reminiscent of Joni Mitchell with a touch of Mary-Chapin Carpenter evident in her powerful rendition of "Gold in the Tapestry".
Laura Post, New Directions for Women, July/Aug '93
This is spiritual music, beyond quiet sounds and hushed tones. It touches the soul with wise perceptions and soothing piano lines; it is driving rock music, with catchy hooks and delicious lyrics.
Holly Sommer, Zassafras News Vol 23, Aug-Oct '93
(G)reat well-meshed music and meaning.
Rusty Gordon, The Community Voice, Oct '92
Jess's debut album, "Leave a Little Light Behind", is pure musical joy.
Grega & Jones, OutSounds, May '96
Her lyrics are sharp, amusing and thoughtful, and include the phenomenal rocker "Gold in the Tapestry"...Her musical hooks are consistently catchy.