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Band Blues Soul


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"Signature Style: Sandra Foster"

Professor Sandra Foster is an avid reader. By day, she’s consumed with dissertations, theses, term papers and articles. But when the 57-year-old educator straps on her guitar, she transforms into a blues bassist although she can’t read a single page of sheet music. “Every New Year’s resolution is ‘I’m going to learn to read music,” quips Foster.

The small obstacle has not deterred Foster since she first began playing bass at 50. Since learning the instrument by playing chords and sitting in on gigs around Atlanta, Foster has become somewhat of a mainstay on the local music scene. Playing often at such venues as Two Urban Licks, Maddy’s and Fat Matt’s, the Clark Atlanta University (CAU) professor likes to involve the audience in her shows. “We’re an interactive band so we pull people from the audience to play and sing with us,” explains Foster. The practice isn’t always prudent. She recalls an incident when a man from the audience, who was smitten by her bass playing, rushed the stage in groupie fashion and began fondling her.

“I grew up with seven brothers, so I’m used to being protected by men. The guys in the band rushed the man and ‘handled’ him,” says Foster. “He didn’t seem like the kind of guy to do something like that, but he just seemed possessed by the music.”

Foster also claims to be possessed with music, which might explain her commitment to the art. Foster’s band, Sana, has released three CDs, and she has plans to build a music studio in her home. Even though she’s busy teaching several courses in social policy at the master’s level and for Ph.D. programs at CAU, Foster still manages to play one gig a week in addition to weekly rehearsals. “You’ve got to touch your instrument every day,” Foster notes. “You have to bond with it. Now I understand why men name their guitars after women.”

For the full story pick up the March Issue of The Atlanta Goodlife Magazine. - The Atlanta Goodlife Magazine March 2006.


THE 2003 BLUES CHALLANGE was held once again at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Buford Highway in Atlanta GA. The SaNa Blues Band, sponsored by Liz and Lee's Live, was second to perform. They put on quite a show featiring many of SaNa's original songs. Although SaNa did not win the competition, Atlanta Blues Society Co-President, Bill Hudson, was overheard saying how impressed he was with how far SaNa has come since starting her musical career only 4 short years ago.

Randy McNally - Atlanta Blues Society. Nov/Dec 2003 / Volume 8 / Issue 4 / ISSN 1531-7676
- Atlanta Blues Society


Just what happens when the faculty leave their offices, classrooms, and laboratories? Do they go home and participate in even more scholarly activity? Are they surrounded by extensive, mahogany-lined librairies with ladders to reach ceiling high collections of books? Maybe they host evening discussion groups in rooms filled with sweet, cherry aroma pipe tobacco? Isn't that what they are suppose to do? After all, aren't professors and scientists basically stodgy workaholics? What exactly do they do?

Well, they do a variety of things. Recently, I received a call from some alumni that had attended an event the evening before. They were really enjoying themselves and listening to James Brown's band perform whem they thought they recognized the bass player as a CAU faculty member. Still, they weren't quite certain. It is sort of like going to the grocery store and unknowingly passing someone that you actually work alongside on a daily basis. What happens is that we become conditioned to seeing someone in a particular light. Then, when we cross paths with them in a different setting, they become almost invivible to us. Well, this was the same type of situation with the band because the bass player was indeed Dr. Sandra Foster.

Several summers ago, Foster decided to try something different and taught herself to play the bass. What she found out was that once she gained her confidence, she was a natural. Now she is a regular on the Atlanta blues scene, performing as a member of the Deacon Blues Band and as a guess musician and vocalist with various other groups, including the band of the Godfather himself, James Brown.

Dr. Vivian Dixon Curtis McDowell, photographer - Clark Atlanta Magazine, Spring 2001.
- Clark Atlanta Magazine


She's a graduate social work teacher by day, but by night SaNa Foster has them groovin' to the sounds of her cool bass guitar and the SaNa Blues Band. Listening to her, it's hard to believe the West Ender has been playing for only two years.
"As a teacher, I have the summers off, and two years ago, I decided to either learn a foreign language or the bass," said Foster, a teacher at Clark Atlanta University. "I didn't want to go to class every day, so I went with the bass. I've always loved it: it's what I hear first."
To keep in top form, Foster knew she would have to commit to rehearsing and playing regularly. "What better way to play regularly than to have your own band?" she said. "We rehearse once a week, and that's helped me learn to play fast."
Catch the band, along with Deacon Blues on harmonica, Friday at the Rib Shack Blues Cafe on Lawrenceville Highway. For information about performances, including gigs next month at Daddy D'z and Fat Matt's Rib Shack, call 404 344-8893.

H. M. Cauley - Nick Arroyo, photographer - Atlanta Journal Constitution. Thursday February 24, 2000 City Life Section
- Atlanta Journal Constitution


SaNa Blues band, headed up by bassist and lead singer, Sandra "SaNa" Foster, with Vincent Washingtomn on guitar, performs original songs written by Foster and old-time blues favorites to an appreciative audience in Woodruff Park as part of the Montreux Atlanta Music Festival. This was one in a series of free lunchtime concerts during the festival.

Nick Arroyo/ Staff - Atlanta Journal Constitution. Thursday September 6, 2001 Southside Notes
- Atlanta Journal Constitution

"'Healing Properties of Artistic Expression'"

The 7th Annual African American Families Conference.

Surviving and Thriving in a Changing World: Impact on African American Families and Communities:

Dr. Foster will present a workshop on the 'Healing Properties of Artistic Expression' from 10:45 AM to noon on Friday April 22, 2005 in Room 143 of the Tate Student Center. The arts are an important form of expression for the African American community. Attendees will learn creative ways to incorporate the arts into practice with children and families.

Dr. Vanessa Robinson-Duley - University Of Georgia School Of Social Work (Mar 24, 2005)
- University Of Georgia School Of Social Work

"CD Release: Black Cat Blues"

SaNa's Black Cat Blues is a new take on the old Memphis Minnie version. It's revised and updated with a serious dance groove and an indelible hook. It is one of the most requested songs at SaNa's live performances.

SaNa is currently working on the 5th CD. The first four CD's are a mixture of 15 SaNa originals with a few cover tunes. This fifth CD will include new SaNa sounds along with updated tweak of the older originals. This 5th CD has old school and new school appeal. Songs like Black Cat Blues will easily be played in the hottest night spots.

SaNa started her music journey in 1998 at age 50 when she bought her first bass and taught her self to play. In 1999 the SaNa Band won the Blues Band Search at Rooster's in Atlanta GA. As a result, the Band opened for Clarence Carter at the 1999 Alabama Blues Lovers Festival in Birmingham.

Since then, The SaNa Band performs regularly in major Greater Atlanta Area colleges and university, clubs, restaurants, festivals, museums, libraries, and various private and public venues. And, SaNa has opened for, and/or played with, such acts as Denise LaSalle, Clarence Carter, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage band, Theotis Ealey, Chick Willis, Willie Hill, Deacon Bluz, Beverly Guitar Watson, James Armstrong, Tony Cook, Tommie Brown, The Shadows, Lola Gulley, The Uppidy Blues Women, and others.

SaNa, also known as Dr. Sandra Foster, is currently an Associate Professor in the Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University. Since receiving her PHD from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, she has taught in various Schools of Social Work. Since learning to play the bass, SaNa presents edutainment workshops on "The Healing Properties of the Blues" for helping professionals. The workshops explore the history of the blues from its African roots to its American fruits while emphasizing the strengths perspective of the lyrics and musical changes.

SaNa is featured in The Atlanta Journal Constitution in February 24, 2000, and again on September 6 2001; the Clark Atlanta University Magazine in Spring 2001; the Bass Player Magazine in September 2001; and, pictured with the late, Mr. Frank Edwards, in the Atlanta Blues Society Magazine in February 2001; Atlanta Good Life Magazine, 2006; Atlanta Restaurant Forum Magazine, 2008. The SaNa Band also performed on the Good Morning Atlanta TV Show in 2002, and Comcast Music Videos in 2005.
- SaNa Sounds Recording, LLC



1 BEST FRIEND LOVING -Sandra Jean Foster
2 BLACK CAT BLUES - Memphis Minnie - Sandra Jean Foster
3 BLUES FROM THE HEART - Sandra Jean Foster & Vincent Washington
4 DISTANT LOVING - Sandra Jean Foster
5 GOING FLYING - Curtis Todd, Sandra Jean Foster, Geneva Foster
7 HIGHER AND DEEPER - Curtis Todd, Sandra Jean Foster, Vincent Washington
8 I DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOU - Sandra Jean Foster
9 I JUST WANNA MAKE LOVE TO YOU – Sandra Jean Foster
10 I LIKE IT WHEN YOU LIKE IT TOO -Sandra Jean Foster
11 I LOVE YOU, YOU KNOW I DO -Sandra Jean Foster
12 INDEPENDENT LADY - Dennis Lowe Sr.
13 JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN - Sandra Jean Foster
14 M. T. - Paul LaVaughn Turner
15 MAN ON EVERY HAND - Sandra Jean Foster
16 SANA THEME - Sandra Jean Foster
17 SUGAR DADDY - Sandra Jean Foster
18 SUNNY DAYS STEAMY NIGHTS -Vincent Washington
19 THE MAN THAT I LOVE - Dennis Lowe, Sr.
20 WATCHING THE NEWS BLUES - Sandra Jean Foster
22 WELCOME, WELCOME - Sandra Jean Foster & Ed McGee
23 WHY I SING THE BLUES - Paul LaVaughn Turner



This is the story of Sandra "SaNa" Foster's journey into the world of entertainment. Her trip began in 1954, at age 6, when she was in the first grade. SaNa moved from the small ore mining town of Bessemer, Alabama, to the Laurel Home 'Projects' in Cincinnati, Ohio where she attended Washburn Elementary School. SaNa realized early on that she could not keep up with the fast paced city folk with her southern drawl and small town attitude.

Fortunately, the apartment building she moved into housed a library in the basement. What better way to learn about where she was and what she could become. Her worldview expanded as she read books on growing up and liking it, explored the London Bridge, or discovered the warm, sandy beaches of foreign shores.

Being book smart gave her an upper hand when she needed to be street smart. Instead of fighting, she mediated. Instead of cursing, she spoke words her peers never heard. Instead of stealing, she bartered. As she gained respect as a scholar, her teachers, family, and peers chose her to lead. SaNa's leadership skills were enhanced by the love and encouragement of her seven brothers. According to SaNa, "Growing up with brothers helped me to balance my male/female character traits. From the male side I learned to be independent and rise to the top of the hierarchy. From the female side I learned to be interdependent and work collectively. I give eternal thanks for the lessons I learned from my brothers Norman, Alvin, Terry, Thomas, Dennis, Oscar and Carnis. With their backup, I never had to worry about getting into fights, or being picked on by other kids. I felt safe to explore my environment and develop my own personal identity."

Part of SaNa's personal identity is her ability to perform in front of a crowd. Her first performance was in the fourth grade when she sang in the choir at Washburn Elementary School. Later, she became a cheerleader at Samuel Ach Jr. High School. While attending Samuel Ach, SaNa had to choose between enrolling in home economics or the orchestra. She chose to play the violin in the orchestra. SaNa continued cheerleading and orchestra at Robert A. Taft High School where she also enrolled in the choir. The Choir Director issued SaNa an ultimatum to either quit cheerleading or quit the choir. He felt that cheerleading would harm her voice. SaNa quit the choir.

In her freshman and junior years at Taft High School, SaNa played in the orchestra for the School's Annual 'Taft Capades'. In her senior year, SaNa was selected to dance in, and help choreograph the 'Taft Capades'. That's when the Orchestra Director gave her an ultimatum to either quit the orchestra or quit the dance troop. He did not think she would be able to balance both of the assignments. So, she quit the orchestra. According to SaNa, "I assumed that was the end of my music career. Although I sang in the choir in elementary school, and played in the orchestra in junior high and high school, I never learned how to read music. I would get the music teacher or one of my peers to play or hum the tune. Then I would find the notes. As I look back, I probably was out of tune a lot." SaNa did not return to music until 31 years later.

SaNa enrolled in Central State University from 1966 to 1971. She majored in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The closest she got to music was serving as Activities Chair for the Student Government Association. As Chair, she was responsible for booking entertainment. Her most memorable booking was Nina Simone. SaNa recalls that "Nina was very picky about the amenities in her dressing room. I remember there was a specific brand of gin she wanted. We had to check all over town to get it because Nina would not go on without it." SaNa also recalls the time they booked the Funkadelics at Central State. She took her baby brother, Oscar D. It was his first time attending a concert. She will always remember the look of joy on his face when she took him back stage to meet the superstars.

In 1970, SaNa gave birth to her only child, Kenyatta Ali Tate. In 1971, she graduated from Central State University. Upon graduation, SaNa worked as a 9th grade science teacher at Cornel White Junior High School, and as a Protective Service worker for the Department of Social Services in Dayton, Ohio. She moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1973 where she served as an intake worker for Community Action Against Addiction; a methadone maintenance program. In 1977 SaNa moved to Wisconsin and enrolled at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned a MSSW in 1979 and a Ph.D. in Social Welfare in 1984. After graduating, SaNa taught in Schools of Social Work at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas from 1984-85; Grambling State University in Louisiana from 1985-87; University of Southern Mississippi in Hattisburg from 1987-1991; Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N. Carolina from 1991-97. She has been employed at The Whitney M. Young, Jr., School of