On Stage

Gwendra Turney and Jen Fisher

Here for the music

Sugar Shot connects with community

By Michele DeVinney
When Sugar Shot performed at the Aug. 18 Lunch on the Square, debuting their new song “Everyday People” as part of the kickoff to the Year of Lending a Hand, it did more than launch a humanitarian effort or spotlight one of the city’s talented bands. It proved that when Sugar Shot’s lead singer and songwriter Jen Fisher opted to stay in Fort Wayne 12 years ago, she knew what she was doing.

Originally from Ohio, Fisher visited Fort Wayne with a friend but chose to stay for reasons that might seem unlikely to someone unfamiliar with the city’s burgeoning arts scene.

“I moved here for the music scene,” she said. “I came at just the right time, when a lot of singer-songwriters and especially women were really coming into their own here. It was such a thriving scene with people like Sunny Taylor, Rushville Whig, the Chronics. It was a great place for musicians who wanted to do original music.”

With her band Good Night Gracie, Fisher got to experience that music scene firsthand, but after going to a Keith Urban concert, she started to consider country music as a better forum for her talents.

“That was such a great show, and Dolly Parton had always been an idol of mine. So I contacted a few musicians and said ‘Here’s what I’d like to do.’”

Originally intended as a side project, Sugar Shot soon began to feel like a good fit. Leaving Good Night Gracie behind — and knowing they were in good shape with a new singer at the helm — Fisher put her focus on Sugar Shot. Although it took a while for her to find the right combination, the band now features three women at the front with Fisher joined by guitarist Jill Engerman and fiddler Gwendra Turney by the end of 2009.

“Our fiddle player is a classically trained violinist and had never played the fiddle before. So she got a book and taught herself how to play country fiddle!”

Sugar Shot continued to work together to solidify their sound and began playing shows around town. Although all three women have full-time jobs — Fisher works for the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Engerman is a design engineer and Turney is a paralegal — they continued to find opportunities to take the stage after hours, letting their hair down in a way they can’t in their professions. When Fisher was approached by Lending a Hand’s Julia Fiechter to write a song to help define her plan to help charitable organizations throughout Fort Wayne, it was a natural fit for a band which wanted to do more than just play music.

“It just felt like a great fit for us. And working with the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir on that song was such a great experience, too. We want to do something more than be a band, and that song has really connected to people in a really special way. People connect to it in a different way than they have in any other song I’ve written, and that’s been such a great thing for us to be part of.”

As 2011 came to a close, Sugar Shot was raising funds to record through to a creative forum for musicians called Jumpstart. But regardless of what they raise from outside sources, the plan remains to hit the studio early this year. Fisher also hopes to continue finding ways to help the community while bringing country rock to stages in the area.

“We really want a chance to be part of something much bigger than us. We love doing fundraisers and love meeting the people we do as a result of those shows. We just want to continue doing what we can both as individuals and as a group.”

Posted: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 11:06 am
Last updated: Tue, 01/21/2014 - 4:51 pm