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 gig he picked up to support himself while he launched his solo act—something he’d tinkered with as a child with his stepfather, then honed working on the line for Vought Aircraft, doing precision work with titanium and platinum. “My stepdad always said to experiment,” says Foster. “He’d say, ‘If you mess it up, it’s just wood.’” So, Foster bought a new jigsaw, borrowed a corded drill from his then girlfriend (now wife), and wrote songs while he crafted furniture. He posted his work on social media, and requests for custom pieces—often from others in the recording industry—started pouring in. (He’s since invested in better equipment.)
Then, he built his wife a daybed swing for the wraparound porch at their home in West End, where they live with their one-year-old son. “Next thing I knew, everyone in West End wanted one.” It became such a specialty of his that he changed the name of his business from Foster Carpentry to Porch 959 for their address, where he started his work. Now, he has a workshop and studio in Southwest Atlanta, but, during the coronavirus pandemic, he’s found himself sawing and drilling back on the porch where it all began, taking orders for tables, headboards, and, yes, the swings, as well as countertops and shelves. He likes working with white oak, ash, and anything interesting he comes across at lumber yards and shops like Carlton’s Rare Woods & Veneers in Midtown—such as the zebrawood he wants to craft into a coffee table for a rap artist.
Foster’s music career has dovetailed with his carpentry business, and although concerts are on hold, he recently released an EP, Making Love, under his name JPaulSings.
He’s also been collaborating with other musical artists, including Q Parker from Atlanta- based, Grammy-winning R&B group 112—not for music, this time, but for a furniture line. One can imagine that the sounds coming from that workshop are more melodious than the grinding of a saw. (They’ve been talking about music videos and already have been approached about a reality show.)
Another collaboration Foster is working on is finding a Black-owned metalworking business to partner with. “Growing up, I didn’t see many Black-owned carpentry businesses,” he says. “So, that’s important to me.”
This article appears in our Fall 2020 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.