Mickey Guyton talks historic Grammy nomination for 'Black Like Me': 'It's such a bigger song than just me and my story'
Mickey Guyton might have made Grammys history with her nomination in November, but she said she wasn’t even aware of its magnitude at the time.
The country singer earned a best country solo performance nomination for her single, “Black Like Me,” which made her the first Black female solo artist ever nominated in a country category. (In 1976, The Pointer Sisters’ hit, “Live Your Life Before You Die,” earned a nomination for best country vocal performance by a duo or group.)
Guyton said she had “no idea” her nomination was so historic.
“I was just surprised that I got nominated, and then later did I see all the articles about the historical moment of it,” she said during an interview with “Good Morning America” in January. “It just, again, brought me to tears all over again.”
The song, “Black Like Me,” puts a spotlight on racial injustice and shares Guyton’s perspective on the discrimination she’s experienced.
Calling the nomination “surreal,” Guyton explained more about how so many have connected with the message behind the song.
“I almost feel undeserving because it’s such a bigger song than just me and my story,” she said. “It’s so many peoples story — that they feel just like that, so there’s a huge responsibility in the way that I feel.”
The chorus of the song includes the lines: “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be, oh, Black like me.” One verse includes: “My daddy worked day and night/For an old house and a used car, hm/Just to live that good life, mm/It shouldn’t be twice as hard.”
The track was released in June 2020, a time when the nation was flooded with protests and marches for racial justice, after George Floyd and many other Black men and women died at the hands of police.
Although the message behind the song is timely, Guyton said she actually wrote the song “almost two years ago.”
“I wrote it just from my heart and how I was feeling … what I’ve gone through in the country music industry, what I’ve gone through as a little girl and the police brutality that I’ve seen against my own husband and against people that look like me,” she said.
“You fight so hard in this industry — you have all these dreams of getting a Grammy nomination, and I had such a different idea of how that was going to happen,” she said. “And it happened in a time where there’s so much racial injustice and racial unrest.”
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Guyton also admitted that she thought the song would “never see the light of day” when she wrote it two years ago, largely because of the feedback she received after people checked it out.
“I had passed that song around to so many people in Nashville, and the common response would be, ‘Wow, this is powerful, I need to sit with it for a minute,'” she said. “And then maybe they would get back to me, maybe they wouldn’t.”
“So I just figured that nobody was really going to know what to do with the song,” she continued. “It was just going to be something that was just sat on the shelf — that was healing for me — and that was it. So for it to have turned around and been something so impactful to me, it’s a lot to take in.”
Although “Black Like Me” focuses on Guyton’s lived experiences, she said she wants people of all races to take something away from the song.
“I hope this song inspires women, period — doesn’t matter what color you are — to live your truth,” she said. She noted how the country music industry often puts women in a box and stereotypes them.
“We’re only allowed to sing about heartbreak and cute, fun songs, but God forbid we have other feelings and then we don’t get supported so often,” she said. “So I hope that this song and this hopeful win will encourage women to live their truth, fight for their truth, stand up for what they believe in.”
The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards airs Sunday, March 14, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on CBS. Check out a list of 2021 nominees here.
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