Webster flees the Music City to pursue … a career in music

Traditionally, people move to Nashville to pursue a career in music.

Faye Webster did quite the opposite, leaving Nashville's Belmont University, where she initially enrolled in the songwriting program before transferring to photography and graphic design early in her academic career, for her hometown of Atlanta.

“It just hit me one day in songwriting class. I was like, ‘What am I doing? These people can't help me. You can't do anything with the songwriting degree,'” said Webster, who opens for Stella Donnelly at Ace of Cups on Wednesday, March 27. “I think Belmont's a great school … but the city of Nashville, I couldn't stand it. It's just not diverse at all, and it was very unappealing to me. So that's why I dropped out and came home.”

Once home, Webster connected with the hip-hop oddballs at Awful Records, which released Webster's self-titled 2017 sophomore album, a record deeply rooted in the country and western Webster grew up absorbing via her dad's record collection. In addition to the occasional musical collaboration — Awful rapper Father appears on Webster's forthcoming album, Atlanta Millionaires Club, out May 24 on Secretly Canadian — Atlanta's booming hip-hop scene also proved fertile ground for the musician's burgeoning photography career, allowing her to capture colorful portraits of artists such as Killer Mike, Migos' Offset and middle school pal Lil Yachty, among others.

Early in her music career, Webster said she was merely emulating the sounds of her youth, particularly on her debut, which she recorded as a young teenager. “I was playing all these shows and my dad was like, ‘You have no music to sell!'” she said. “I think I was just guilt-tripped into making that first record. It was definitely just a reflection of what I grew up on.”

But Webster said Millionaires Club is more reflective of who she is now, her direct lyrics tackling heartbreak with humor intact. Witness the swooning, pedal steel-kissed “Johnny,” where Webster envisions an ex hearing the song and subsequently being crushed by it.

“Everybody writes about heartbreak, which is what I write about, but I try to do it in a way that's meaningful, or that people can relate to,” Webster said. “I'm trying to be very honest.”

She's also not afraid to flaunt every facet of her musical personality these days, even venturing into hip-hop on the trippy “Flowers” courtesy a guest verse from friend and mentor Father.

“I wasn't really worried [it would jar listeners] because I try to just like make my art with pride and shamelessly, so, to me, that was just an homage to Awful and Father, who helped me start my career,” Webster said. “Some people are going to hate that song, but for some people it's going to be the secret sauce. And I think that's what that song is for, and I love having it on there.”