Fayth Hope thrives on introducing underground music to anticipating audiences, and the extraordinary Soultopian Society is one of her primary outlets to do so. The culture curator prides herself in bringing the perfect artistic vibes to the “soultopians” who follow her work, and does so in a variety of ways. In addition to revealing new musical worlds to Birminghamians, Fayth is a licensed counselor who provides affordable and accessible counseling services at Seeds of Hope Counseling and Consulting, a consultant in higher education, a performing artist (Hope jokes that she doesn’t like to call herself a recording artist as she hates recording), and a mother. Hope is currently working on her own album and has upcoming features on multiple other releases coming soon. She also played a part in honoring the life of Anthony “Amp” Jackson II after his tragic passing that impacted much of our city.
“I have always been a creative. I knew that I could sing as early as 4. Growing up my parents had a couple of friends who owned a black art gallery (Ophelia’s) so on a lot of Sundays we would go and look at the pieces, the curation of it all,” Fayth shares, “Seeing all of these artifacts - especially since they looked like me - that meant a lot.”
Another joy that’s been a part of Fayth as early as she can remember is the passion for showing her friends new music that she’s stumbled upon. This curator role was further heightened when Fayth’s older sister left Birmingham to begin her freshman year at Clark Atlanta University (where Fayth would eventually graduate from herself). “That was 1992 which was a phenomenal year in music, especially hip-hop, R&B, and the emerging of the hip-hop/soul era,” Hope recollects. Her sister would bring back underground hits and now-known classics that hadn’t reached Birmingham yet, and Fayth made it her job to share these irresistible tunes with those around her.
New Orleans bounce legend DJ Jimi, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Snoop and Dre’s “Nothin’ But A G Thang” were just a few of the musical behemoths that Hope introduced to her friends after hearing from her sister. 70s staples like the Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, and Earth, Wind & Fire also mesmerized the middle schooler, and once again she passed along these angelic sounds. There was no point in holding on to these gems, as the true pleasure was found in listening and vibing with friends and family.
Hope’s own collegiate experience brought even more new tunes. Friends from the DMV area brought go go music, Louisiana peers brought the bounce, those from up north were listening to Jadakiss and Jay-Z, and the Midwest had Slum Village and J Dilla. Later in life, DJs on stations like WCLK and Jazz FM added even more gems to her musical treasure chest. “I built Soultopian Society based off of things that are from me, but also elements of different people that I admire and hear things from.”
“I operate in vibes. If it doesn’t have ‘that vibe’ I can’t deal with it. I really like the way I feel when I hear certain songs in various genres, and I want others to feel like that as well,” the curator explains, “I want to share those good vibes. My intention is to turn people on to dope stuff so they can get that feeling.”
This intention turned into the musical movement that is Soultopia Society. Hope initially thought Soultopia would be centered around fashion and accessories. A trip to the Art of Cool festival with her friend, cinematographer and photographer Stevie Robinson, to interview artists like 9th Wonder, Moonchild, and more. While taking a break between events, Robinson encouraged Fayth to push forward with her vision of creating an art and culture hub. The vision was further inspired by a conversation with Jason Orr, founder and curator of the FunkJazz Kafe in Atlanta, who Hope has long looked up to. Fayth asked his advice on operating in cities that may not have yet embraced the underground music scene so diligently and his wisdom was “just keep putting it in their face.” She’s been doing that in Birmingham ever since, and the city has rewarded Hope’s perseverance by welcoming her underground curations. Fayth’s Soultopia at Sunrise series is another way the curator gets her hidden musical gems to the public. “I like exposing stuff from the underground, the alternative culture. That is the mission of Soultopian Society,” Hope shares, “To bring forth alternative culture into a greater awareness. To center it and give it agency.”
One of Hope’s recent journeys has been helping the family and friends of Anthony “Amp” Jackson continue the legacy of the Birmingham legend and his “Winning At Life” brand after he was sadly taken too soon from this Earth. “(People) really loved him. He was love. He gave love,” Fayth recalls, “He went in hard for me. It’s only been a handful of people in my life who have been that gung-ho for me wanting to see me win in my music career, and he was at the top.” Amp’s loved ones came together to uplift his brand right after his passing, and his mother and Herman Mannings III have now created a scholarship fund in his name. Amp is also the reason Fayth Hope and this article writer crossed paths, and I am forever grateful (just like many others) for the love he showed to this city, our music, his friends, and complete strangers.
Fayth continues to push the art and music scene of Birmingham forward, and has no plans of slowing down. “I’m in the business of putting dope stuff out in front of people,” the curator shares. We are thankful she’s continued to provide wonderful tunes and fantastic vibes to the Magic City.