ALMA — There wasn't much of a blueprint for Sarah Faith to follow before she became a singer-songwriter in Nashville.
The 2011 alumna, who is known offstage as Sarah Merritt Schumacher, said she was working as a photographer in Michigan when, about a year ago, she decided to move to Tennessee and try her hand at a singing career.
Now, the Lake Orion native has something to show for her efforts with the May release of her first single, "Before You."
"I've had this approach my entire life of, 'I might not know how to do that right now, but I'm going to figure it out,'" she said. "There's some research involved, there's some networking involved, there's some prayer involved. To be here now is something really cool, but I want more."
Faith explained that a lot of her drive and determination was borne on the field of play and in the classrooms of her alma mater. A business administration major, Faith also split time between the choir and the varsity soccer team.
"Being at Alma was definitely a bit of a balancing act," Faith said. "I auditioned for the top choir on campus as a freshman and was told I would be given a spot, but I would likely need to find a way to split time with soccer. I loved soccer and wanted to keep playing, so I just made it work."
Faith had a productive career as a Scot, playing in 73 career games — good enough for 21st all-time — from 2007-10. She was a member of two teams that reached the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference championship game before falling to Calvin.
True to form, during Faith's time at Alma she forged her own path by picking up photography and videography jobs with the college's sports information department. She learned how to use video systems so thoroughly as a student that immediately after graduation, the Alma athletics department created a position for her, and she went to work as an assistant sports information director.
"I was doing so many things," Faith said. "I was in all the press boxes, on all the sidelines, the live streaming, asking people, 'What if we tried to do this?' The athletes loved it and I had a ball. It was a great time working at Alma.
"The athletics department really treated me like family. At one point, I thought I was going to be an SID for the rest of my life. But other things came up and I couldn't say no."
Faith pursued a master's degree in communications at Oakland University, and started her own small photography business after graduation. Her love of singing never left her, and she continued to play country and Americana music as a hobby.
Faith did that for several years until 2019 when she said, "The universe took over." She dedicated herself to a solo singing career and moved to Nashville with husband Ryan Schumacher. One year later, Faith released her debut single.
"Looking back on it now, it's like, 'Wow. You can literally Google 'Sarah Faith singer' and you'll be led to me somehow. It's surreal at first, but when I really think about all the work it took to get here, it makes sense," she said.
"Before You," a ballad about finding true love, was released online through Spotify, Amazon and Apple, among other streaming platforms. Faith said she enjoys being an independent artist because of the freedom it affords her, and is exploring her next step in the industry — be it a full album release, an EP, or something else. She enjoys performing on Instagram where she does a live show weekly, @SarahFaith_music.
"I know enough to be dangerous when it comes to the inner workings of the music industry, but at the same time I don't want to compromise who I am. Right now, I enjoy knowing everything is mine. I don't know if that's sustainable, but it's fun," she said.
For now, she hopes to impart a simple message to anyone who's struggling to conform: It's OK to forge your own path.
"With this music, I really just want to be myself. Because ultimately, I hope that gives people permission to be themselves, too."
For more, visit sarahfaithmusic.com.