Mickey Guyton is special to country music in many ways. The songstress credits Dolly Parton, LeAnn Rimes, and Whitney Houston as her major inspirations and influences. And she does so all in the same breath. She said she didn’t see many girls of color like herself when she was growing up around Arlington and Waco, Texas. Undaunted, she displayed her gift for melody and powerful lyrics in her 2015 ballad, “Better Than You Left Me.” The song inspired a faithful following for Mickey Guyton. But it didn’t bring the breakout of her dreams, even after more moving and magnificent songs like “Nice Things,” “Sister,” and “Heartbreak Song.”
It took a moment of truth from her husband to bring Mickey Guyton to the realization that she needed to embrace her whole story. She needed to sing her authentic truth to spark people to listen. The counsel from hubby, Grant Savoy, took hold, as Guyton explained in her revealing WFAA8 interview, also featured per MSN. When she sang her song, “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” at a Nashville radio showcase in 2018, she got a solid room full of ovations.
When Mickey Guyton took center stage at the 2020 ACM Awards, she got the whole country music world’s ovation for the song. The 10 years of her tough climb in the industry were culminating in a courageous moment of triumph. The job is still not done, says Mickey Guyton. And, she plans to keep creating more songs like “Black Like Me” that “bother” people as truth-telling vessels for change.
Maren Morris just happens to be another girl from Arlington, Texas who is speaking up for Mickey Guyton. She offered some words from the CMA Awards stage, as Taste of Country noted.
The salute from Maren Morris to Mickey Guyton, more ladies took planning
This year’s 2020 CMA Awards did its best to capture the feel of country music performances the way they used to be. The lighting, ambiance, and mood were designed to recapture the mood of the first CMA Awards banquet in 1967. The nominees, performers, and their guests were the people who comprised the audience, seated in individual circular pods. What was lacking in quantity was compensated by enthusiasm.
Several famous folks danced to the songs from the stage. And, Ashley McBryde sang her heart out to Jon Pardi’s Joe Diffie tribute with “Pickup Man.” McBryde was also visibly in tears to see Charlie Pride receive the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Pride sang his most endearing song from his 70 million albums, “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” with his presenter, Jimmie Allen. Mickey Guyton was not in attendance, but she was about to get a big-time notice from one of the night’s biggest winners.
Fans certainly had to notice that Maren Morris and her husband, Ryan Hurd, went to great and deliberate lengths to share complementary, but diverse looks through the evening. Morris was in flowing black sequined lace for her first acceptance remarks. She transitioned to shimmering silver to perform a particularly emotional rendition of “The Bones” before her closing honors. Ryan began in classic black and finished his walk with his wife to the stage in a bold print of red and black on white. Mickey Guyton was likely cheering from home, not knowing her name was about to come up.
A time for names to matter
Like the styles, Maren Morris put consideration into her remarks from the stage. The triple-charmed artist of the evening mentioned Miranda Lambert, who “paid it forward for me as an artist,” according to Morris. Maren also sent long-distance thanks to Keith Urban in Australia. He was one of the first headliners to bring Maren Morris to attention as his opener.
Maybe sharing motherhood had something to do with why Mickey Guyton came so prominently to Maren Morris when she accepted her final Female Artist of the Year trophy. She mentioned Mickey Guyton front and center with pioneering black performers like Rissi Palmer, who inspired Mickey, Linda Martell from the late 60s, and the country-soul spirit sister, Yola.
“I am such a fan of country and soul music,” Morris stated. She related that the talented list of ladies called out “really should be more heard of” and that she wanted to share a moment with “women that don’t get the credit they deserve.”
Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton have both focused their writing on the next generation. The polarized status of our nation is immensely concerning to any parent hoping to leave the planet in better condition than he or she found it. Morris admits that her “classic protest song,” “Better Than We Found It” is, literally, a mother’s plea for the legacy she will leave to her son, Hayes. Mickey Guyton put hope heavily into “Heaven Down Here” in an effort to spread the message that unity accomplishes more than rage or worry.
Mickey Guyton says many people relate to ‘Black Like Me’
The mother who hopes to welcome her healthy, strong, and beautiful son in February is nesting in California now. Mickey Guyton glowed, while she showed off her baby boy’s booty of arrival goodies for the CMA Award preview special. She feels the burden of being a parent to a black son amidst the police violence and social turbulence of these times. “I pray for him,” his mother plaintively put in her October gender announcement. She also admitted bluntly that “I don’t want to have to have ‘The Talk’ with my son.” She knows the odds are against her in that wish.
Mickey Guyton feels like she’s home when she is going down the 360 in route to Mansfield in Texas. “I love that here, we can see so much of the sky,” I’m like in the crowded high-rise life of a metropolis. “I’m kind of a Waco girl” Guyton discloses of her other growing-up locale. Mickey is the second oldest of four daughters and she still remembers the turnoff in Division (a nearby town) before she got to Mount Olive Baptist Church. She recalls singing for the congregation there. She also recalls the teachings of her parents to never judge anyone by the color of their skin, “and to love on all people.”
A song for every color and more
Sadly, though, Mickey Guyton and her siblings recall stories of not being so welcomed. She mentions points of time growing up when private schools became the only option because “they [the area public schools] didn’t want black kids in school.” She declares that “Black Like Me” is for anyone marginalized by society. The title could easily become “Different Like Me,” “Disabled Like Me,” “Poor Like Me” or any color on the spectrum, as well as anyone within the LGBTQIA community.
Mickey Guyton understands what it is “to be the little girl who wants to sing country music but doesn’t have the opportunity. I want to be the door for her to walk through.” The singer-songwriter was working with diverse artists, such as a country music singer from India. And also working with the label companies to encourage the hiring of more diverse employees.
The rising talent will be the first to say that her perspective has changed. “I used to sing about myself,” Mickey Guyton honestly confesses. When she first released “Black Like Me” on her social media page, her team considered hiring extra security. An alarmed Guyton questioned that “all I did was write a little song.” Her little song moved many hearts and minds, and Spotify boosted the streams to millions. The alarm soon turned to acclaim.
A husband’s wisdom for Mickey Guyton and wanting to be a bother
Honesty truly has been the best medicine in more ways than one for Mickey Guyton. She recounted how “my frame of thinking” changed radically about two years ago. While She and her husband attended marriage counseling, and she frankly asked, “Why isn’t country music working out for me?” Leave it to an attorney husband to give the most logical answer.
“Because you’re running from everything that makes you different,” Grant Savoy confided to his wife. Initially, her songs were about everything going on in her marriage. Gradually, she started voicing the experience of being a black woman. Finally, Mickey Guyton has come to use her truth as a vehicle for all women, all colors, and anyone unseen by most eyes of society.
During the last 2 minutes of her interview, Mickey Guyton understands a certain kinship with Willie Nelson. The legendary Texas native and outlaw music icon has his own colorful words for those who feel he’s abandoning his audience. Mickey ask another question. “Are they bothered? I hope so. I want to bother them as much as possible.” She continued, “I want to sing so many songs that bother them, because then I know I’m doing the right thing,” Guyton asserts.
Mickey Guyton has found her identity in her message and a new meaning in life, and a growing audience can’t wait for more.