*Mickey guyton brings a new dimension to country music, bringing another person of color into an industry largely dominated by white men.
“If you go on and look at the charts and research the history of the country music charts, it’s mostly white men,” Mickey Guyton said. “Every now and then there’s a woman who can walk by, black, white, whatever. It is extremely difficult and I personally think it is wrong.
The Border Breaker, who released her single “Black Like Me,” a song she co-wrote in March 2019 at a cross-genre writing camp, has opened up new avenues in the landscape field. country music. “Black Like Me” was named one of the Top 10 Songs of 2020 by NPR, Billboard and The Associated Press. She released her EP Bridges in 2020, which included “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” hailed by Variety Magazine as “Country Song of the Year”.
Born in Arlington, Texas, Mickey Guyton grew up in Waco, Texas and began singing in church at an early age. Her early influences were CeCe Winans, Whitney Houston, LeAnn Rimes and one of her all-time favorites, Dolly Parton.
“My grandmother loved Dolly Parton,” she said. “So every time I went by her house she had Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers VHS tapes hanging on the back of her wall, she loved Southern movies like” Steel Magnolias “and” Fried Green Tomatoes “, and that’s so a little there I started.
Her church attended a Texas Rangers baseball game and hearing a very popular singer inspired her.
“We were up there in the nosebleed section and we stood up for the national anthem, and it was LeAnn Rimes singing the national anthem,” she recalls. “I didn’t really wonder if it was country or whatever, I just heard the voice. And anyone with an amazing voice that I loved, whether it was LeeAnn Rimes, Whitney Houston or Dolly Parton, those were the people I loved, so that’s where it started for me. .
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Her first appearance, after signing with Capitol Records, was a star-studded White House gig captured by PBS. She released her eponymous EP in 2015, which included her first single “Better Than You Left Me”.
Nominated for her first Academy of Country Music Award for New Singer the following year, she returned to the ACM Awards in 2019, performing “I’m Standing With You” from the soundtrack to the film “Breakthrough” alongside Chrissy Metz. , Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina and Maddie & Tae.
Her debut album, “Remember her Name”, tackles themes of social progress and social revolution, themes rarely heard in country music.
“When I first wrote I didn’t even know I was writing for an album,” she said. “A lot of those songs were therapy for me. There were songs that I wrote that I never thought I would see the light of day that were more for me to relieve myself and move on. But when the doors started to open for me with ‘Black Like Me’ more and more of these songs started to have a chance to be heard and the album is really about self-discovery.
A history student, Mickey read the book of the same name.
“I read the book in college,” she said. “It was a book that has always accompanied me. I was so affected that someone literally darkened their skin to look like a black person. People always say if you walk in someone else’s shoes you have a much better understanding and this man did. He understood the horror that blacks regularly experience. It changed my life when I read it.
When asked what she thought of the current state of country music, Mickey was blunt. “Some people will apologize and say ‘well people don’t want to hear from women’, and I think that’s not true. It was very, very difficult. I think the current state of music country is for people to find their own ways to have an outlet other than country radio. And to me, that’s a good thing, because it gives people who don’t necessarily listen to radio different versions of country music. and that is emerging. There is a black resurgence of country artists entering the format who have opportunities. It’s just a matter of time, before it opens up and there is has all kinds of people doing it, but at the moment it’s not in the best shape. “
However, addressing social issues in music, especially country music, a genre not associated with social issues, has created a backlash. “I had a major backlash,” she explained. “A horrible backlash, so much so that I had to prevent people from being about to comment who were following me, because it was very, very horrible. I had never been the target of this hate, and I’m like, hate for speaking my truth? For having said my point of view? It was really horrible. “
Guest in the Disney animated series Mickey mouse house as Wanda Warbler, she plays the role of a singer… the best country-western singer in the world, who tends to get lost before her shows, much like her real character.
“She’s a Disney character who always goes astray and gets lost and they lose her,” she said with a laugh. “Honestly, I’m really like that in real life. If my husband and I go somewhere, I always walk away and he looks for me in the store. It really is who I am.
She sings an original song called “Won’t Go Wanderin ‘” in the episode which releases October 15th. So how did a voice over role for a Disney character come about? She has no idea.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” she laughed. “I was sitting at home very pregnant and got a call saying that Disney wanted me to do some voiceover work, and I’ve never done that before. I was there for that, it was really great. Would love to do it again.
Mickey Guyton recently made history as the first black female solo artist to win a Grammy nomination in a country category (Best Country Solo Performance) for “Black Like Me,” which she performed as part of the award ceremony. She was also co-host of 56e Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS last April. She is currently nominated for New Artist at 55e CMA Awards on November 10, 2021.
“Artists of color are a game changer,” Mickey said. “They also hold the door to each other. And I think that’s the real key to success. Some of the artists who opened the door for him included Rissi Palmer, Miko Marks, Jimmie Allen and Darius Rucker. “Darius Rucker has been very encouraging for me,” she said. “Jimmie Allen gave me opportunities that no one else gave me. They are the ones who opened doors for me.”
Country music is evolving. With Mickey Guyton breaking new ground, she sees a more inclusive version of the genre’s future.
“I see country music as colorful,” said Mickey Guyton. “I see women, I see natives, I see blacks, I see white people, I see LatinX, I see everyone who loves country music so I can be a part of it. I see the genre expanding. I see the crowds at these concerts becoming more diverse, because people feel welcome there. This is how I see country music.
To learn more about Mickey Guyton, visit his website at www.mickeyguyton.com.