March 12, 2021
Her song Black Like Me is a bold statement in an often conservative genre, but the Texan Singer is conflicted about bringing diverse voices into the ‘lion’s den’ of country music
The boat has been rocked: Mickey Guyton, the Grammys first Black solo female country nominee
When Mickey Guyton was a little girl growing up in east Texas, she would line her white canopy bed with a cadre of stuffed animals posing as adoring fans and dream about the day she might attend the Grammy awards as a nominee. “I thought I was going to be in the audience wearing this big, glamorous, Whitney Houston-type dress,” Guyton says, calling from her home in LA a month or so away from giving birth to her son, and trying to keep her calico cat, Halle Barry, quiet. The Grammys, like most things in the Covid era, will be different this year. “I didn’t think I’d be in a pandemic, pregnant, among social unrest. It definitely played out a lot different in my mind, you know?”
Guyton is the first Black solo female artist to be nominated in a Grammy country category, for her single Black Like Me; the only previous Black Women to be nominated for country music were the Pointer Sisters in 1976. She says she never pictured making history with a song that details the Black experience in an exclusionary genre, or that she would pivot from trying to keep quiet and compliant to being at the forefront of a movement to crack country open to new voices. But now, she says, “the boat has been rocked”. As Guyton sings on her 2015 release Better Than You Left Me, a track that should have been a hit if American country radio were not so committed to moderately talented white men as its bread and butter, “it’s funny what a little time does, baby”.
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