Major Key: Central Ga. native fills Philips Arena with music

He helps bring the ultimate game day experience each and every time fans and players enter Philips Arena for Atlanta Hawks games.

Organist 'Foster'-ing the Hawks' sound of music

ATLANTA - He helps bring the ultimate game day experience each and every time fans and players enter Philips Arena for Atlanta Hawks games.

As the team's organist, Foster Carson has blossomed into one of the NBA's top musicians after establishing his roots right here in central Georgia.

During a night at Philips Arena when the Hawks are in town, the focus should be on the floor, but fans often find themselves paying more attention to what's happening in the stands. 

You won't find him on the roster, but he is an intricate player on the team, taking in every minute of the game all while having a bird's eye view. 

"Absolutely, we're close to the court," Carson said. "I can feel the action from here. A lot of stadiums have the organist really up high in the press box and when I first came here that's where they had me, but I didn't really like it because I was so disconnected, so I asked that they move me to the audience and it's worked pretty well." 

During the games, Carson's job as the team's organist is to bring music to thousands of fans' ears all because of a love he has for tickling the ivories -- which he's had for pretty much all of his life. 

"The story goes like this," Carson said. "My mom says when I was six months old, I was in a walker. I rolled up to the piano, hit one note, looked at her and tried to sing it back to her. When my grandfather saw that, he said, 'Y'all need to get him music lessons!'" 

It started in Peach County, where Carson was a member of the Trojan marching band.

He also spent many Sundays playing the organ at Shiloh Baptist Church in Fort Valley, which helped perfect his craft for the spotlight he has today. 

"You know, the game is not scripted, so anything can happen," Carson said. "A possession can change on a dime, so what I have to be able to do is watch the action and being in the crowd helps me with the mood of the game so you can know what's the right song to play." 

After eight years of taking the league by storm, Carson has more recently jumped onto an even bigger stage. He has played at several All-Star games, including last month's game in New Orleans, an honor that humbles him even more.

"It's the biggest thing we do in the NBA and it's a huge weekend, lots of events, lots of celebrities, a lot of good energy in there," Carson said. "I've been blessed to do it four times, so it's always a great feeling and always amazing." 

So, next time you're in the stands or catching a Hawks game on TV, stop, look and listen out for the man who helps set the tone for the game, every fast break, every basket and every celebration providing a few keys of motivation.

"When you look at the NBA, everyone is talented," Carson said. "Everybody is one of the 400 best players in the world, so then you can have little things that can push you over the top. So, if I can help to raise the energy of the fans and really get them locked in so the entire city is locked into one place, that's a lot of energy moving into one direction and I feel like it does help the players." 

When Carson is not playing the organ at Philips Arena, he is a full time musician that goes by the stage name Sir Foster. He also plays the saxophone and the baritone. 


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