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An only child, Sanders began his musical career accompanying church hymns on clarinet.
His initial artistic accomplishments were in the visual arts, but when he was at Scipio Jones High School in North Little Rock, Sanders began playing the tenor saxophone.
He briefly attended Oakland Junior College and studied art and music.
He continued to explore the music of different cultures and refine his compositions.
Although Sanders' voice developed differently from John Coltrane, Sanders was strongly influenced by their collaboration.
Spiritual elements such as the chanting in Om would later show up in many of Sanders' own works.
Pharoah's first album, Pharoah's First, wasn't what he expected. In the 1970s, Sanders continued to produce his own recordings and also continued to work with the likes of Alice Coltrane on her Journey In Satchidananda album.
The musicians playing with him were much more straightforward than Sanders, which made the solos played by the other musicians a bit out of place. Most of Sanders' best-selling work was made in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse Records, including the 30-minute wave-on-wave of free jazz "The Creator has a Master Plan" from the album Karma.