Faye Webster will make you want to cry, in a good way.
"In a Good Way" is a hit song off of the 24-year-old crooner's most recent album, "I Know I'm Funny haha," a genre-defying record as witty as it is affecting. The music review website Pitchfork named "I Know I'm Funny haha" among the best albums of 2021. Former President Barack Obama listed the album's opening track, "Better Distractions," as one of his favorite songs of 2020. Whether you've already caught wind of Faye Webster, or if you've yet to experience her plaintive vocals, R&B inflected orchestration, and painfully honest lyrics, you'll know her name soon — the Atlanta-based artist is certainly one to watch.
Here are five things to know about this up-and-coming songstress, who will perform a sold-out show in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art's Club B-10 on Saturday, Feb. 26.
1. This rising indie-folk star has country roots ...
Webster was brought up in a musical family. According to a 2019 Washington Post article, her mother plays the fiddle, and her grandfather was a bluegrass guitarist in Texas. "Run and Tell," Webster's self-released debut album, leans heavily into Americana influences — on the track "Lonestar," then 16-year-old Webster croons "I wish I was back down South with my cousins … the Lone Star State could be the perfect place for me." The Atlanta-born singer did a stint at Belmont University in Nashville, where she took courses in songwriting, but eventually moved back to Georgia to pursue a full-time music career. Even as her sound on recent albums has moved towards R&B, Webster has stayed faithful to her country roots by featuring pedal steel guitar — performed by Matthew Stoessel — on many of her tracks.
2 ... but feels at home with Atlanta hip-hop.
Growing up in Atlanta's public school system, Webster gained first-hand exposure to the city's diverse rap and hip-hop scene, even joining it herself. A profile of Webster published in her former high school’s newspaper, The Southerner, reveals Webster was part of a 12-member rap group called "PSA," short for "Please Stop Asking." After her self-released debut, Webster cut her teeth as a recording artist with Awful Records, an independent creative collective founded by the rapper Father. Webster's bluegrass-inflected ballads were outliers at Awful, a label known primarily for promoting "oddball" Atlanta rappers such as Slug Christ and Abra. But Webster's genre-bending spirit inspired her to incorporate the hip-hop and rap artists she worked beside into her own music — Webster has frequently collaborated with Awful Records producer and rapper Ethereal, and "Flowers," a track off her third studio album, "Atlanta Millionaire's Club," features rapping by Father.
3. Before gaining recognition as a singer, Webster was an accomplished photographer
Webster may have dropped out of Belmont University, but as she told W Magazine in a 2017 interview, the photography and art direction courses she took while enrolled in college helped her get her foot in the door of the Atlanta art scene. After moving back home, Webster began to practice portrait photography more regularly, gaining pointers from Awful Records' resident photographer Brandon McClain (who sometimes shoots under the artist name "Eat Humans"). Webster has photographed rappers like D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty (coincidentally, her middle school classmate) for publications like Rolling Stone, and was even commissioned by Nike to shoot an ad campaign for the 20th anniversary of their Air Max 97 sneaker.
4. Webster is a huge Braves fan, and even wrote a song about her favorite player.
America's favorite pastime, baseball, also happens to be Webster's favorite pastime. On tour, Webster told NME, she frequents batting cages to blow off steam, and at home, Webster frequents Truist Park to cheer on her home team, the Atlanta Braves. Though a lifelong Braves fan, Webster explained in an interview with ESPN, she began following the team more closely while enjoying large swaths of free time in the aftermath of her 2019 Atlanta Millionaire's Club tour. One player in particular caught her eye and stole her heart — outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. On "A Dream With a Baseball Player," the ninth song off of her latest album, "I Know I'm Funny haha," Webster croons "I could just meet him and get it over / Or I'll just keep wearing his name on my shirt. / Whatever I need just to help me cope." Webster finally did meet the subject of her song — in 2019, a Braves manager invited Webster to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch, and introduced her to Acuña, who said, "Thank you for the music."
5. If you missed her this time, you can catch Webster supporting girl band HAIM on their tour this coming spring.
If you haven't bought your tickets yet for her show at Mass MoCA, you might miss Webster this time around — the show, held in the intimate Club B-10, has already sold out. But never fear — tickets are still available for her Feb. 25 show in Hamden, Conn., and her Feb. 28 show in Boston. Webster is also supporting the pop-rock trio HAIM on their spring tour, which will swing through New York on May 17.