Many basketball fans know the story of Atlanta Hawks organist and recording artist Foster Carson, better known as Sir Foster, and how he got the organist job after seeing the position on Craigslist.
However, very few people know how Carson, the musician, was born. The pianist and saxophonist discovered his gift for music at the tender age of six months old.
“My mom says that when I was six months old I rolled up to a piano—I was in a baby walker at the time—hit one note, and looked at her and sang the note to her,” Carson said. “My grandfather saw that and told my parents that was a sign that I was meant to play music. He told them to be sure to get music lessons for me no matter what. They followed his advice and here I am today.”
From that moment, the Fort Valley, Ga. native began developing his skills as a musician—first, through the piano and then with the alto saxophone. He also has a drum machine that plays live from time to time.
Carson began playing the piano at his church at a young age. He later took up the saxophone and played in the marching and jazz band at Peach County High School.
“Having the opportunity to play in the school marching band and jazz band was great for me too because it expanded my musical horizons,” he said. “The lessons that I learned in church and the school bands helped me transition to playing in jazz clubs when I was a teenager. I’ve been able to blend all of that into the style that I have now.”
Carson also credited his piano teacher, Mrs. Johnson, and his school band director Randolph Lindsey, whom he believes is the “greatest band director in the world.”
“I was extremely blessed to have them as teachers,” Carson said. “Their impact on my music and life cannot be overstated.”
Before Carson got his start with the Hawks, he was playing music wherever he could. He played at local clubs in south Atlanta; he played at a local church and gave private lessons as a music teacher.
“Somehow I would find time to be in the studio whenever I could,” he said. “I also toured with the Heather Hayes Experience band and played at company parties and wedding receptions.”
When Carson saw the job opening the Hawks organist position on Craigslist in 2009, he was not looking for a specific job when he saw the Hawks ad.
“Boredom is what led me to Craigslist that day,” he said. “That was one of the few days I had some down time. I was just as surprised as anyone to find the Hawks job on there. I believe destiny had something to do with it.”
That destiny led him from playing to small crowds at local clubs to playing to thousands of people at Philips Arena. Carson gained fame from his covers of hip-hop music during game.
He built a fan base in Atlanta soon after he played his first note in Philips Arena, but he caught the attention of basketball fans around the world during 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans where he was the game’s organist. He blew up on Twitter and other social media outlets. Carson said that night was the biggest night of his life.
“That’s the one that stands out for me; it was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that,” he said. “I still remember every detail of that weekend to this day. It was incredible.”
Not only did Carson catch the attention of basketball fans, but of NBA players as well. If you look at his Instagram account, Carson has several pictures of him with various NBA stars that he has met after games.
“All the NBA players that I’ve met have always been cool,” he said. “LeBron, Kobe, Steph Curry—meeting all those guys was big. The closest I’ve come to being star struck was when I met Shaq during my first year with the Hawks. That was huge. Pun intended.”
In 2015, Carson released his first studio album “Future World Record Holder,” which features 10 tracks. He sings and plays the piano and sax on the album.
More doors opened for Carson after his album released. With encouragement from the Hawks, he has expanded his brand further by writing and producing music. He wrote two songs that were played during Hawks games this season. He also has other projects in the works.
“One of the things I’m most excited about is the movie that I worked on,” Carson said. “A producer named Ric Atari asked me to help him score a movie after his wife heard my album and passed it to him. The movie is called Hollywood Hearts and it should be out later this year.”
Carson said he wants to continue to write and produce music.
“I like to dream big, so my goal is to win 100 combined awards for music that I’ve worked on—Grammys, Oscars, Emmys, Billboard, Kid’s Choice—every kind of award there is,” he said. “Right now, I have won exactly zero awards so I’ve still got work to do. I hash tag all my posts with #GrammyAwardWinner because I am going to speak it into existence and work until it happens.”
With Carson’s plan to do more in the music industry, one could wonder how long will he continue to play for the Hawks as her works toward his goal of winning 100 awards.
He said there is no timetable for that.
“Every single time I walk in that stadium I get a rush,” he said. “Every time I play, I always feel like I am doing the most incredible thing I could possibly be doing with my life right now. The day I don’t get that feeling anymore is the day I stop. And I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”