Gorgeous country music songstress, Mickey Guyton, is no stranger to making the hair of her audiences stand straight up with her soulful, soaring voice. Beyond that, she has been writing most of the song she sings for years, but, even so, this year is different. The 2020 55th ACM Awards were the most different in the ceremony’s history on September 16.
A stellar lineup of country stars sang and spoke from three Nashville monuments to music—the Bluebird Café, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Grand Ole Opry. To be sure, there were memorable and meaningful performances throughout the evening, but no one’s song penetrated more souls with perfect timing than Mickey Guyton’s breathtaking ballad, “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?”
The world is seeing the spectrum of talent within this artist as never before. This is the moment destined to be hers, and she has a rainbow of creativity and color yet to offer
A marvelous introduction for Mickey Guyton
Mickey Guyton’s dynamic presence and vocal prowess in country music have been evident since the 37-year-old Arlington, Texas native became a name in Nashville around 2014. She garnered her own ACM Award nomination the next year, for New Female Vocalist of the Year, and her 2017 original song, “Better Than You Left Me,” was a breakout in more ways than one. The song got Mickey Guyton in regular radio rotation and got noticed by country music greats who Mickey admired, like Dolly Parton.
Despite her love for country music, Mickey Guyton began to feel like she and many women in her industry were “missing” from the predominantly male-created “good-time songs” that surged up the charts. She decided to forgo the Nashville system method of choosing music that was “aimless,” as she described, and never made anyone uncomfortable.
Mickey Guyton determined that she was going to write from the heart, and her heart was breaking because of the struggle for women in the world, much less music. She collaborated with longtime friends and co-writers on “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” giving them her gratitude in an after-show interview. After the crushing losses of so many vibrant lives, Mickey was moved to express her own personal truth amid the Black Lives Matter movement, and “Black Like Me” was born, ringing with authenticity. The reception was instant and approving for these powerful musical statements from Mickey Guyton.
And now, ladies and gentlemen…
It’s impossible to top becoming an inspiration for countless young women of color In the way Mickey Guyton has. Her superstar introduction for her unparalleled ACM Awards performance would certainly be a close contender for her second most memorable moment of the night. After Tim McGraw’s touching performance of “I Called Mama,” the man with the famous black hat turned to the cameras and started talking like a father. He made an impassioned plea for a world where is three daughters, and every daughter, could have “every opportunity,” before introducing Mickey Guyton.
Host Keith Urban, who never stopped playing, singing, or cheering his friends and fellow country music artists on, was at the piano, striking the plaintive first notes for the ballad. He never spoke a word, but his superb talent and visible presence certainly let Mickey Guyton know that she had a fan and curator at her side. The gesture was quite a compliment to Guyton and to the devoted father of two daughters.
A strident question for the world from Mickey Guyton
Expectant mother Mickey Guyton was indeed a vision in dazzling white, truly looking like a Madonna with child. Above and beyond anything visible, though, flowed the resonant courage of the singer-songwriter, declaring the opening lines of “She thinks life is fair/God hears every prayer/And everyone gets their ever after.” The childlike dream continues with “She thinks love is love/And if you work hard, that’s enough/Skin’s just skin and it doesn’t matter.”
The incredible power of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” is that it embraces themes of racial inequality, racial injustice, gender orientation, sexual assault, discrimination, and simply the hope to accomplish any dream all in one song. While it is assuredly a female empowerment anthem– it is much more. Variety notes that “anyone who’s current status is not ‘bro’ can find something to relate to in the number.” That would include fathers, sons, brothers, and men everywhere who want women in their lives to become fulfilled and worthy of their future. In less than 3 1/2 minutes Mickey Guyton bestowed that irrepressible power and sense of being within hearts everywhere.
The cheers for Mickey Guyton are pretty great
In a People feature, Mickey Guyton reflected on being the first black woman to perform at the ACM Awards. She doesn’t forget the musical shoulders she stands on, praising Rissi Palmer, who, by the way, started her new podcast, “Color Me Country,” last week. The pioneer gave Guyton the vision that she could “see it and be it” in country music, and now, Mickey is in the same role for her multitude of fans, growing by leaps and bounds since she took the ACM Awards stage.
Maren Morris happens to be another lady from Arlington, Texas, who congratulated Mickey Guyton as the “FIRST BLACK WOMAN” to perform at the ACM’s. Maren got the nod for Female Artist of the Year, and she, too, related mommy concerns in accepting her honor.
Wow. @MickeyGuyton that is a performance that will make people listen, think, and change. Me included. You are a force.
— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) September 17, 2020
Kelsea Ballerini wasn’t bashful about Mickey Guyton, either. The “Peter Pan” singer praised that the performance “will make people listen, think, and change. Me included.” Mickey Guyton isn’t shy about saying that her journey has often been a struggle. The good news is that for everything difficult in this year, the time for talk and discussion seems over, so change can finally happen in what Mickey calls the “beautiful community” of country music.