Introducing our September 2020 Roadies of Color United professional of the month Rebekah Foster
Rebekah Foster has been in the business for over 35 years. An unlikely profession for a Black woman who went to college to study sports medicine. While in college, her passion for music, specifically audio engineering, could not be denied. She hustled! She was willing to work anywhere she could gain experience and exposure. She put her heart and soul into succeeding in this industry and succeed she did. In 1987, she started her company, Ujima Sound Productions Ltd. Named after one of the principles of Kwanza meaning Collective Work and Rebekah takes this to heart. It is how she has tried to live her life and run her company.
“I figured if a client hired my company to assist them, I could have input on staffing thereby ensuring that more of us were working “
As a child, she vividly remembers seeing the Jackson 5 and Sly at the Hollywood Bowl. That concert started her love for live music. At the time, she did not realize or understand that God was preparing her for life’s passion which is her career.
Rebekah has been fortunate to work with an array of artists from different genres as a recording, FOH or MON engineer, backline tech, road manager, assistant tour manager, tour manager, and/or production manager. From legends such as Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bobby Blue Bland to contemporary legends like Boogie Down Productions, Queen Latifah, Eve, Missy Elliott, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, SWV, Naughty by Nature, Marcus Miller, Outkast, Puffy, Biggie and Boy Family, D-Nice, Brandy, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Eric Clapton, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip, Steel Pulse, Busta Rhymes, and Prince.
Rebekah has worked with her artists at some of the most notable music festivals and such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Montreux, Lollapalooza, Smoking Grooves, Lilith, Carnegie Hall, The Apollo and Rebekah honestly admits it has been tough but doesn’t regret the struggle. She was challenged due to her race and her gender. Oftentimes, she was dismissed but she kept at it. Eventually learning all the job positions. She even managed the Grammy Award-winning group Naughty by Nature for many years. These days, Rebekah works as a Tour Director, Tour Manager, Production Manager, and as well as where it all began – as an Engineer.
Rebekah loves the music, her tour family, the travel, and the audiences. She feels music is another expression of God’s love. Rebekah loves the adrenaline of getting the show prepped, loaded in, up, executed, and out to the next venue. “I love the process of the art as it is created from the inception to when it arrives at rehearsal until it hits the stage. Music is universal. It brings all these different people from different backgrounds together for one purpose. It is love in motion.” She considers herself blessed to be a part of bringing that love around the world.
Given the current situation in the world, Rebekah is even more determined than ever to give back. While the live music business has basically been shut down since March, she has still found a way to give back. She still lives in the Bronx, which is one of the areas most adversely affected by the pandemic. She helped organize and volunteers her time at a food pantry, runs errands for the elderly, and handles the day-to-day operations for her church while keeping up to date with all the changes that are happening within our still shut down industry.
Her biggest joy comes from the young people whom she has introduced to the music business. Since starting Ujima, Rebekah has had interns to whom she has been exposed to every aspect of the business. Some of these interns were able to travel the world due to their commitment to work, learn and listen. Some of whom are now industry professionals.
Rebekah is the oldest daughter of the late, Rev. Wendell Foster and Mrs. Helen Foster. Rebekah attributes her exposure and love of God, music, and the arts to her parents. Her mother introduced her to all genres of music. Her father, a writer, and actor in his younger days introduced her to the theater, especially the Black theater. Some of her earliest memories are of being with actors and singers such as Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Linda Hopkins, and Odetta. Her greatest joys while not on the road are cooking (she can burn) and spending time with her 9-year-old niece, Nia.
She is thankful to her parents for their support and encouragement on her less traveled path over the years. It is Rebekah’s hope that more people of color and especially women of color can rise to the top and have equality in this industry. Most importantly, EVERYONE needs to get out and VOTE!!!