Sandra "SaNa" Foster - Bandleader, Bassist, Vocalist
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.
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.