Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer Talk Sisterhood and Success on ‘Color Me Country’

Mickey Guyton via Instagram
Country Music, Country Music News, History, News

Mickey Guyton has lots of reasons for joy this holiday season, and none of them have anything to do with anything wrapped under the Christmas tree. The country music songstress kept reaching and proving her range through 10 years in the typical Nashville system.  She wrote songs, too. “Better Than You Left Me” brought Mickey Guyton loyal fans and big-name admirers, but never got the radio rotation that the ballad of overcoming truly deserved.  Two years ago, Guyton let go of singing or writing “somebody else’s songs” and pledged to sing straight from her own truth.

The choice made all the difference for Mickey Guyton

That pledge and personal pivot rang truer than Mickey Guyton ever imagined, and the stage came calling. She’s gone into the history books twice this fall. First, she left audiences spellbound with her penetrating performance of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” at the ACM Awards in September, the first Black woman to perform at the ACM Awards.

One of the people and strident female pioneers getting thanks from Guyton was Rissi Palmer that night. Palmer’s 2007 song “Country Girl” was the first song to chart by an African-American woman since Dona Mason did it in 1987. Palmer is still creating her own songs, such as “Seeds.” The groundbreaking artist uses her presence and platform to allow other artists of color and indigenous country musicians to be heard.

Mickey Guyton was the guest of honor for Rissi Palmer’s Apple Music show, Color Me Country, as Essence online featured.  There was more history for the sisters in music to discuss.  Mickey Guyton has become the first Black female solo artist to be Grammy-nominated.  Her song “Black Like Me” is speaking to countless listeners on a level beyond race and skin color.  The powerful ballad pertains to anyone scarred by being different, shamed, or marginalized.  Guyton thought her personal anthem would never see the light of day, much less make such a meaningful difference.

Grammy tears of joy for Mickey Guyton

Just before Thanksgiving, Mickey Guyton got the surprise of her lifetime.  She was all set to name the Grammy nominees in the Gospel, Christian Contemporary, Roots, and Spoken Word categories when a message came to her that “Black Like Me” got the nomination in the Best Country Solo Performance category.  Understandably, two pauses came to let the tears flow.  Guyton could only react with “I’m pregnant and super-hormonal, but thank you” at the time.

Once Mickey Guyton found her words, she eloquently expressed how this nomination “it’s for every black girl that felt unseen.”  The artist also added “unheard” and not “enough” in her comments.  She closed by calling the honor a recognition to those “shoved in a corner and completely unconsidered,” before giving thanks to the Recording Academy.

 

“Black Like Me” was largely unconsidered when Mickey Guyton began circulating the song. “The  common reaction was ‘I need to sit with this for a minute. I’ll get back to you,’” she remarks. Guyton believed in her song and there were video plans for it, along with “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” The pandemic shutdown stopped.

Mickey Guyton marvels that “God has a plan,” because the only way she released the song was on her social media.  Her followers started to listen, and Spotify picked up the song.  “For that song to have taken a life of its own in a pandemic where I can’t even leave my apartment. It’s just crazy.”

For her part, the singer-songwriter insists that “I haven’t done anything different other than open my mouth and speak out against racism and sexism and speaking up for people that can’t speak out for themselves.”  The huge difference is that Mickey Guyton has risen to her moment, and many, many people are hearing her now.

Mickey Guyton still learning from Rissi Palmer

Rissi Palmer provided a surging, pioneering portrait of what it is to “see it and be it” for so many girls of color.  In the case of Mickey Guyton, the impression was so strong that the Grammy-nominee stresses “I would not have moved to Nashville had I not Googled Black female country singers and saw your face.”

The image of the vibrant but “nervous” Palmer “holding your heart and your guitar,” as Mickey Guyton recalls, became embedded as a vision for the yearning artist.  “You are the head majorette,” Mickey praised Palmer. “I’m just following your lead and following how you’re leading in love.”  Guyton also credits that “I discover artists because I’m seeing your page.”  True success is having an impact on future generations, and Rissi Palmer and Mickey Guyton are feeling that satisfaction now.

It’s an effort together for Mickey Guyton

Above all the accolades, Mickey Guyton has discovered that her success is not merely her own.  Her strides belong to all Black women, and she senses her commitment in “bringing each other up.”  “It has to be a collective effort,” Guyton emphasizes.  Every “next Black girl” to succeed has to “open the door for the next Black girl. It doesn’t come down to simply helping one another out, in Mickey Guyton eyes.  The aim should be to embrace the next Black girl and Black people “because they are important.” Black women remain crucial to that sense of importance and “we’re not always made to feel that way,” the singer reiterates.

Every expectant mom knows how hard it is to prepare for welcoming a child into the world.  Mickey Guyton knows that she won’t be alone in welcoming her new son with hubby, Grant Savoy, in February. The mom to-be posted his response to her question of why he loved her so much.  His answer: “I don’t know, my heart just chose you.”

In her Instagram announcement of her pregnancy in August, Mickey Guyton gave God thanks for being chosen as “this baby’s mom.” Joy and gratitude are central to the Christmas season and this growing family has a multitude of reasons for rejoicing.

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