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jess playing guitar

Jess Hawk Oakenstar is a widely traveled solo guitarist/singer/songwriter and “one-woman band” 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.

jess and guitar

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.


“After the last note sounded, I was left with the feeling that I had really heard something. Well written and performed songs delivered right to the target of the heart, and remains still. Side B is 5 stars of beauty.”
– Eddie Russell, Country Eastern West, Sept ‘93

jess and guitar

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.

jess with instruments

In 1992 she was a national songwriter finalist at the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas.

She has appeared on “Good Morning, Arizona” and other television shows, and her music has been heard in the US on over 100 radio stations including the syndicated “River City Folk” and “The Songbag”.


“If you like your music with a rocking, country-style groove, plenty of catchy tunes and some incredibly talented musicians, then this is an album you’ll want to play again and again. Jess is one of those singers whose voice catches you turning your head toward the speakers to hear just a little bit better the phrases and notes that weave her stories. Combine great tunes with some solid guitar (both rocking and sweet), add a dash of international accent (Zimbabwe, New Zealand and England are a few of the places that she hails from) and you’ve got one fine album to listen to, no matter what your mood. Personally, Jess’s music is what I ALWAYS put on when my spirit is flagging…she gets me moving every time!”
– Julie Nicolay,

She has 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.

When performing solo, she is also a “one-woman band”, utilizing high-quality backing tracks along with her guitar and vocals.