Mickey Guyton – ‘A Little Black Girl from Texas'
Newsweek|October 22, 2021
Singer Mickey Guyton is blazing a trail for country music to embrace more artists of color. It’s taken 10 years of hard work and detours for her to break through
By David Chiu

Mickey Guyton is proof that good things come to those who wait. After years of going through what she describes now as the “Nashville hamster wheel,” the Texas-born country music singer has become a breakout star following the 2020 release of her much-talked-about single “Black Like Me,” a powerful commentary about being a Black person in America. For that song, Guyton became the first Black female artist to be nominated in the Grammy category of Best Country Solo Performance; she also performed “Black Like Me” at the ceremony this March. A month later, she co-hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards with Keith Urban. Most recently, Guyton received a nomination for New Artist of the Year from the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, which will be held on November 10 in Nashville. That nomination is ironic given how Guyton has been on a record label for a decade now.

“It’s so crazy because it’s all amazing,” Guyton, 38, tells Newsweek about the belated attention. “But we’re still kind of stuck inside. You get on these highs and then it’s over and you’re like, ‘Okay, back into my cubby hole now.’ That’s why I’m able to keep such a chill approach to it because the pandemic has been so interesting. And I have a baby who kind of tops everything that I’ve done. It’s very humbling.”

This September, Guyton finally released her much-anticipated debut full-length record Remember Her Name (Capitol Nashville)—something that the singer herself never thought would happen. Her initial doubt is justified after the obstacles she experienced as one of the few female singers of color in country music, a group that also includes performers Yola, Linda Martell, and Rhiannon Giddens.

“This album was in the making for years,” Guyton explains, “but I just got so derailed and pulled in all of these different directions trying to get on country radio. Finally, I was like, ‘I can’t do this. Leave me, everybody and your opinions, and let me figure this out on my own and what I want to say on my own.’”

Guyton’s personal and professional struggles informed the lyrics on Remember Her Name, a moving work that both showcases her powerhouse vocals and radio-friendly merger of country, pop and R&B music. Both the album’s name and anthemic title track took inspiration from Breonna Taylor, the young Black woman who was fatally shot in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment last year by police. Taylor’s death, along with George Floyd’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s, galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement as the country saw protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

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