Mickey Guyton enjoyed quite the year, with the country music star singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, to her hosting a special Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C.
It’s all why Time magazine selected Mickey Guyton as the inaugural winner of its Breakthrough Artist of the Year. It’s part of their annual Person of the Year edition. Time will reveal its cover, Wednesday (Dec. 7), but the magazine teased some of the other important people featured in the edition.
The magazine talked with Mickey Guyton about a variety of issues, including her Super Bowl anthem. More than 110 million people tuned in for the contest between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium in LA. As a 39-year-old Black woman, she’s still trying to push country music to be more of a reflection of the entire country, as opposed to certain segments of it.
“It was the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Guyton said of her Super Bowl moment. “I felt like I was about to give birth for the first time or walk down the aisle and get married to the wrong guy.
“To be honest, it’s really hard right now with what’s going on in this country,” she said. “I wanted to be proud of singing the national anthem. So if you had noticed the choir, it was really important to show what I saw America as. We chose someone with a disability, a Black trans woman, an Asian man.”
Mickey Guyton Says She Saw Positive Change After a Song Release
She’s always tried to quietly open country music to other minority performers. Sometimes, by choice, she gets a little loud. She told Time that she’s experienced negative pushback, especially since 2020. That summer, she released the song “Black Like Me.” And she told the magazine how that’s helped the industry change.
“I had so many country artists behind the scenes reach out to me, wanting to have conversations on what they could do and how they could be more of an ally,” Mickey Guyton said. “A lot of them did start finding musicians of color for their bands. There’s a drummer named Elizabeth Chan who played with me, who you now see at every country-music award show.
“Also, there are a lot more Black country artists (who) have loved the genre but didn’t think there was a space for them that are migrating to Nashville and trying to have careers. But if you study the country-music charts, they’re against women and people of color.”
Then the Time reporter asked Guyton about the Billboard country chart. Only white males had No. 1 songs this year.
“Yep. It’s f-cking frustrating,” she said. “There are so many incredible singers out there and we’re just accepting the crumbs. I keep thinking to myself, I know some of you have daughters.
“It’s a lot to digest, and part of the reason I stepped away from social media,” Mickey Guyton said. “I have to protect my inner peace. And people get really upset when you talk about it. They’re just tired of hearing it. But these are people’s livelihoods and careers that you’re deciding. You need to give your listeners a little more credit.”