Last year, Carter Faith hit three major life milestones: The North Carolina native not only graduated from Nashville’s Belmont University, but she made her debut performance at the Ryman Auditorium and released her six-song EP Let Love Be Love, via Pound It Out Loud Entertainment.
Now, Faith has inked a music publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville, Billboard can exclusively reveal.
“After I released the EP, it was really cool to see people in town that I looked up to really respond to it,” Faith tells Billboard. “They were willing to write with me and I would just randomly get set up to write with people at UMPG. [A&R Directors] Roxy King and Zach Lund reached out and loved what I was writing.”
Each song on her recent EP showcases Faith’s vivid, mature lyrics and soft, lilting twang. She recently opened shows for Russell Dickerson and has set tour dates with Kip Moore and Caitlyn Smith in the weeks ahead.
Billboard spoke with Faith about her journey to Nashville, her new track “Greener Pasture,” and her affinity for singer-songwriters including Kacey Musgraves and Natalie Hemby.
You co-wrote all five songs on Let Love Be Love. What inspired the title track?
I kept coming back to this Morgan Harper Nichols poem called “Let July Be July,” about just letting things in life be as they are. I was inspired by that and it was this great reminder to slow down and appreciate things.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue music?
My family loved music. I grew up in the backseat of the car listening to music or to cassettes my grandpa would play. Then Taylor Swift came onto the scene and I wanted to pick up a guitar. I remember doing cover shows at a little bar in my hometown.
What was the first song you wrote?
I just randomly wrote a song one day at 16. I remember sitting on my bed and I was upset about a guy. No song I turned on was making me feel better, so I had to write one myself. It was nothing I had planned. I never thought about being a songwriter, I just did it.
What was your first concert you ever saw?
My first concert was Hannah Montana. I was like 7 years old.
You studied songwriting in college. How did that help you build upon your skills as a writer?
You have to put into it what you want to get out of it, like with anything. It helped me build confidence. It also gave me a launching pad and a family of others who want to be writers to feel comfortable with before you get thrown into Music Row, which is a whole different ballgame. I tried also to just reach out to writers in Nashville to co-write and that helped as well. All of the showcases and meetings, it was all networking.
You made your debut at the Ryman Auditorium for the 10th anniversary of Whiskey Jam. What do you recall about that experience?
My whole family got to come see me sing at the Ryman and it was surreal. [Whiskey Jam founder] Ward Guenther just cultivates this amazing community and you just want to support the other writers. We’re all trying to do this crazy dream and it’s going to get competitive at times, but you don’t feel that there. You just get to go jam out and support other people who enjoy music. It feels like you walk in and everyone’s guard is down and you can just be there for the music.
You recently released a new track, “Greener Pasture.” How did that come about?
I wrote that with Tofer Brown and Lauren Hungate. They are such great writers but I just love that song. It didn’t come from the most personal place — it was more lyric nerds getting into the room and trying to make a cool story. But as you are writing it, you realize just how relatable it is. I love how it stays grounded. Those are the two things I love: rootsy country music, and then pop music that can be escapist.
Who are your dream co-writers?
I love Kacey Musgraves as an artist and I would love to sit in a room with her and hear how she turns a lyric and crafts a melody. I am also such a big fan of Natalie Hemby. I love how versatile her writing is. I feel like every song of hers is different, but you still hear her mark on it. I would love to just even be a fly on the wall, hearing either of them write.
What artists would you love to collaborate with?
I love Eric Church. He’s from where I’m from, me and my dad loves his music, too. And then, Kacey of course. The pop scene is really fun, too. I’m obsessed with Doja Cat. She’s totally forging a new path of music, and that’s what legends do.
What’s your favorite Doja Cat song?
I love “Get Into It.”
If you were not doing music, what would you do?
I would be a stylist. I think fashion influences so much of the world that we live in. Or, I would be a psychologist. I love when people discover something about themselves and it makes them feel comforted about the world they are in.
What are your on-the-road essentials?
My aunt gave me a hand pillow that’s stuffed with lavender and it’s become like a lucky charm.
What is ahead for you?
This past week or two I’ve been feeling so creatively inspired, just thinking about songs I could put on another EP or just as singles. Right now, I’m so focused on to getting to share the music that is already out there and to keep building my audience.