A labor of love

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Ohio native Jen Fisher (center) started Jen Fisher & the Foggy Creek Band after moving to Fort Wayne from Kentucky. CONTRIBUTED

By Michele DeVinney
For IN|Fort Wayne publications

FORT WAYNE — Unlike many who perform regularly in the city’s rich music scene, Jen Fisher was not born and raised in Fort Wayne – or even in Indiana. But when the Ohio native left for school at Kentucky Christian University, her roommate was from Fort Wayne. When Fisher accompanied her friend for a visit home, she had no idea that one day it would be her home as well.

“When I visited I brought my guitar and discovered what a great music city this was. When I graduated, I started thinking about where I wanted to go and was looking at the future at decided to move to Fort Wayne. It was three hours from home so not a huge move from my parents’ perspective. But I knew Fort Wayne had a great music scene, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to play.”

Performing in public now comes naturally to the singer/guitarist, but it wasn’t always the case. In fact, despite coming from a musical family, the idea of performing terrified her.

“My mom, my grandma and aunt had a gospel group, and they always tried to get me to perform with them, but I wasn’t interested. I was just so shy that I didn’t want to perform. But I joined a musical at my church, and it was a background person so I didn’t have to be up front. Then everyone in the show quit, and the only way it could go on is if I was willing to be up front. I really wanted to do this show so I said ‘I hate this, but I’ll sing.’”

She continued to play music and was a drummer, a role which allowed her to stay away from the limelight. Eventually she realized that if she was going to sing, she needed to come out from behind the kit and stand at the microphone. She said her guitar provided – and still provides – a little something to “hide behind,” leaving her less nervous about taking center stage.

Fisher said that her move to and transition into life in Fort Wayne was seamless, having already established a sense of community here before the move. Friends and fellow musicians were welcoming, and now, having lived here for more than two decades, Fisher considers Fort Wayne home and has found success in a number of musical projects including Sugar Shot, a country-pop dance-party band that became very high-profile very quickly. But she yearned to do a different kind of music, a feeling which led her to form Jen Fisher & the Foggy Creek Band. Another change in her life also dictated a shift in her musical focus.

“This band has really been a labor of love,” said Fisher. “Spending time in Kentucky, I really loved roots bands, and I had always been in party bands so the Foggy Creek Band is really me pursuing my passion. Sugar Shot was doing great, but then my son was born. I had originally thought Foggy Creek would be a part-time thing that I did along with Sugar Shot. But once my son was born, I didn’t really want to play in party bands that played in bars. I didn’t want to play until 2 a.m. and then get up early with my son. This band allowed me to play in different venues and festivals and play early enough that I could get home at a decent hour.”

Finding fellow musicians to play her unique brand of roots, bluegrass and Americana music was daunting at first, but Fisher found success out of the gate.

“I knew I couldn’t do it without a banjo player. If I didn’t find a banjo player, it wasn’t going to work. But the first person who came to try out was a banjo player. Now I have a seven-piece band, and I am so blessed to be playing with these amazing musicians that I’ve come to know over the course of my career.”

Along with raising her son, Fisher is the marketing director for Fort Wayne Community Schools, but she still finds time to share her music. The band will play at Jefferson Pointe’s Friday Nights Live on August 2, and Fisher expects to visit several festivals this summer including a triumphant return to Paulding, Ohio’s Tunes, Brews & BBQ where last year they served as an opening act, and this year they’ll be headlining. They can also be found playing regularly at the Deer Creek Irish Pub. Fisher is happy that she chose Fort Wayne as her hometown.

“Everyone here has been so welcoming, and I’ve met nothing but great people from the start. After 21 years, I just call Fort Wayne home.”