Cool Jobs: Meet Fort Wayne musician Jess Thrower

Jess Thrower, age 26, is a bit of a unicorn when it comes to the local music scene. She’s among the few solo female artists pursuing her craft full time. 

But like a lot of creatives, she has spent years coming into her own musical style and identity. Her trajectory hasn’t exactly been linear, which also makes her story relatable. 

"I've always really liked music,” Thrower says. "I had been super interested in it because of my dad (a longtime radio executive). But I didn't play an instrument (right away). I got my first guitar when I was 12 and took lessons for a month, and I gave up because I was like, 'This is way too hard.'”

Luckily for the Fort Wayne music scene, Thrower didn’t give up for good. Around age 21, she picked up the instrument again. And by 22, she was playing gigs around town and making her brand known.

A multi-talented artist, she’s a singer-songwriter and a guitarist. She performs original works as well as cover songs. While she doesn’t claim a particular genre, she says many consider her sound to fall under “Americana" or “Indie.”

Most weekends, you can find her performing at local venues like coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and wineries. She has built up a following and enjoys the creative outlet that comes with the shows. However, at the same time, she’s candid about the struggles of being a female artist in town.

“There are so many (talented) male artists (in Fort Wayne), but you see a lot of the same people playing,” she says. “I feel like we don't get put into that circuit as often as some of these other bands that you just constantly see.”

This means that female artists especially must step up and prove themselves, she adds. However, it only takes one big gig to boost an artist’s confidence and notoriety. In her case, it was performing at then-candidate Bernie Sanders’s campaign rallies.

Thrower poses with 2016 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.

Thrower says she coincidentally met people from Sanders's campaign team at the right time. Before she knew it, she was being tapped to open at the May 2016 rally at what’s now Purdue University Fort Wayne and later at one in Traverse City, Mich. 

“That's obviously the biggest thing I've ever played,” she says. “It was very terrifying..., but it was also really fun.”

On that note, Thrower encourages aspiring artists to give it a go.

“Just do it. And if you need help, ask.”

That’s the beauty of the local music community, she says. People are willing to take a chance on a budding artist. 

Cool Jobs is a new feature on Input Fort Wayne highlighting members of the northeast Indiana community who have unique or interesting jobs here. To suggest an idea, email [email protected]

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.
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