Dallas native and singer-songwriter Jared Foster landed in Atlanta in 2014 while collaborating with Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae on his Grammy-nominated song, “All I Need Is You.” Carpentry was just a side job he took on to support himself while he launched his solo act – something he had tinkered with as a child with his stepfather, then perfected while working on the line for Vought Aircraft, doing precision work with titanium and platinum. “My stepfather always told me to experiment,” says Foster. “He was like, ‘If you mess it up, it’s just wood. “”So Foster bought a new jigsaw puzzle, borrowed a corded drill from his then-girlfriend (now wife), and wrote songs while he made furniture. He posted his work on social media and requests for custom pieces – often from other players in the recording industry – started pouring in. (He has since invested in better equipment.)
Then he built his wife a swing set for the wraparound porch of their West End home, where they live with their one-year-old son. “The next thing I knew, everyone in the West End wanted one.” It became such a specialty for him that he changed the name of his business from Foster Carpentry to Porch 959 for their address, where he began his work. Now he has a workshop and studio in southwest Atlanta, but during the coronavirus pandemic he found himself sawing and drilling on the porch where it all started, taking orders for tables, headboards and, yes, swings also as counters and shelves. He enjoys working with white oak, ash, and anything he finds interesting at lumberyards and stores like Rare Woods & Veneers in Carlton in Midtown, like zebrawood that he wants to turn into a coffee table for a rap artist.
Foster’s music career has dovetailed with his carpentry business, and although gigs are on hold, he recently released an EP, Make loveunder his name JPaulSings.
He’s also collaborated with other musical artists, including Q Parker of Atlanta-based, Grammy-winning R&B group 112, not for music, this time, but for a line of furniture. One can imagine that the sounds coming from this workshop are more melodious than the grinding of a saw. (They talked about music videos and were once approached for a reality show.)
Another collaboration Foster is working on is finding a black-owned metalworking company to partner with. “Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of black-owned carpentry businesses,” he says. “So it’s important to me.”
This article appears in our Fall 2020 issue of HOUSE of Atlanta Magazine.