Triple the gospel - The Foster Triplets accept the call to minister through music
Malaika, Mahari and Mikaili Foster have been inseparable from birth. The 16-year-old triplets have formed the gospel music group, ‘The Foster Triplets’. The Westmoreland natives were born to Markquin and Nicole Foster, who have raised their daughters on gospel music and divine ministry. The family’s favourite Bible verse is Jeremiah 1:5, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’
But according to the baby of the group – Mikaili (the last-born, as she likes to call herself), their path into ministry through music was never planned. “We were told by our parents that at the age of two during family worship, they heard us singing harmony. They nurtured that gift by surrounding us with gospel music.” She added, “As we grew older, it became a personal choice, because we got the conviction that this was what God wanted us to do.”
The girls are homeschooled, and are heavily involved in their church and voluntarism in their community, partially influenced by their parents involvement in community service. It has allowed them to gain exposure and evolve as musicians and ministers – now it has blossomed into even making music for ministry on the spot.
They have been ministering to various congregations across Jamaica for the past 11 years, and have already been exposed to international audiences, in more than 10 states in the United States. However, 2015 could easily be called their breakthrough year with the release of their debut album – What a God! It was the same year that they received the opportunity to share their voice with a larger audience at the Festival of Religious Freedom held at the Jamaica National Arena, where they had the privilege of singing the National Anthem, and later that year they ministered at the General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Antonio, Texas.
The triplets’ journey has not been the smoothest of roads; they have had their fair share of challenges. Malaika explains, “Since our first album, we have been writing songs to record but we have had some drawbacks.” For most of last year, she was bedridden due to a back injury. But she said the time gave them the opportunity to discover more about themselves and their voices. “We have also become more confident on stage, so we have an even greater stage presence,” she said. The boost in confidence was extremely important for her, as she is easily distinguished from her sisters, having been born with ptosis – a condition that affects the muscles in her left eye so it often appears droopy. “It initially affected my confidence because persons would always ask about it or even tease me; however, I have grown to accept who I am,” she said.
INFLUENCED BY CULTURE
With many gospel artistes adopting a ‘secular sound’, Mahari said: “Our practice is to prayerfully select the songs we deliver to ensure they speak to the heart. We believe that as ministers, we have to be careful with music because it is a very powerful tool in God’s hand but a very dangerous weapon in the hand of the devil.”
The music they create and use in their ministry is heavily influenced by local culture. “Jamaicans are generally an expressive set of people, so I guess that is transferred in our music. Sometimes during our concerts, we utilise Patois to order to bring a point across (although depending on the listeners, we have to interpret it), but our sound is predominantly Southern gospel with a little mix of contemporary,” explained Mahari.
With the purpose of “preserving the heritage and promoting the future of gospel music”, these three singers bring the sounds of yesterday to life while providing a glimpse into the songs of tomorrow, taking much of their inspiration from veteran singers such as Shirley Caesar, The Gaither Vocal Band, The Hoppers, and Taranda Greene.
The trio is determined to make every aspect of their lives about ministry and shares the sentiment that “ministry does not necessarily begin on stage, but with each contact made with every individual”. Such thinking gave birth to a mission to deliver the message to persons in need. Four years ago, they started a hospital ministry, using music, prayer, and words of encouragement to bring comfort and cheer to patients, their family members, and medical staff across the island.
“As we take care of the physical needs of others, there are times when music will mean more to persons than even food because it soothes the mind and gives hope and comfort. So when we visit the hospital wards, the home of a sick individual, or someone who lost a family member, or talk with someone in distress, that’s when music becomes medicine to the soul,” Mahari shared.
It is significant to their brand and they are focused on education, in helping children to source resources for school like stationery and examination fees.
With an unbreakable bond in everything they do, the three sisters want to become obstetricians/gynaecologists and establish a birthing centre, but they tell The Sunday Gleaner, “For now, our attention is on a full-time singing ministry to save lives spiritually.”