Mickey Guyton had a breakthrough year in 2020, releasing an EP, Bridges, and cementing herself as a leading Black voice in country music. This year, she'll make history when she hosts the ACM Awards alongside Keith Urban on Sunday night, becoming the first Black woman to host the show.
"As I’ve said before ‘if you can see it, you can be it,’ and it’s such an honor to step onto the ACM stage as the first ever Black woman to host the show," she said in a statement. "Over the years, the Academy of Country Music has always been a home for me through opportunities both onstage and throughout their work on diversity and inclusion. This is a moment of great significance for me and I am so thrilled to share it with all the fans."
During last year's ACMS, became the first-ever Black woman to give a solo performance of her own music during the annual show when she sang "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?" with Urban accompanying her on piano. Guyton was signed to Capitol Nashville in 2011 and released her first single in 2015, but her early music wasn't giving her the success she was hoping for because she wasn't telling her own story.
"My husband and I were having drinks in L.A. and I asked him, ‘Why do you think country music isn’t working out for me?'" Guyton told NBC News. "Because I’d been pursuing country music for five or six years at that point and I hadn’t really had much success. I’ve had some success, but not that much success. He said: 'You're running away from everything that makes you different. You need to write your songs about your experiences. Country music is the truth, right? So write your truth — don't write somebody else's truth.' It was such a life changing conversation for me."
The Texas native began sharing that truth in 2020, releasing "What Are You Gonna Tell her?," which discusses sexism and violence against women, in February and "Black Like Me" in June amid racial turmoil in the United States. Both songs appeared on Guyton's EP Bridges, which was released in September.
"I have so many cool fun songs that I want to release, but this is where people are going and we're having to run with that," the new mom said of the success of her recent material. "And it's a beautiful thing, but it also puts a lot of pressure on me. I get comments from fans, ‘Of course, she's pulling the race card’ and I'm like, ‘If you had any idea of what I've gone through for almost 10 years, you would never say that.'"