Mickey Guyton made history ahead of the Grammys as the first Black woman to be nominated for Best Country Solo performance for “Black Like Me.” On Sunday night, she made her Grammy debut with a powerful performance of the song.
Guyton kicked off the performance with a single spotlight, accompanied by a cello, piano and pedal steel guitar. “Little kid in a small town / I did my best to fit in / Broke my heart on the playground / When they said I was different,” she sang.
She led into belting the chorus “It’s a hard life on easy street / Just white painted picket fences as far as you can see / If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try to be Black like me.” In the second chorus verse, she was joined by a handclap percussion.
The Grammy ultimately went to “When My Amy Prays” by Vince Gill.
Guyton, 37, first signed with the Nashville recording industry nearly a decade ago. But she released “Black Like Me” in June 2020 on her own Instagram and on Spotify’s marquee Hot Country playlist. She told “CBS This Morning” at the time that after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, she felt she “had this song that was expressing so much of what I was feeling and I felt a lot of other people were feeling, so I first put it on my Instagram for healing purposes and Spotify asked for it and here we are.”
Guyton told “CBS This Morning” that in Nashville, she felt the pressure to conform to a certain version of country music.
“For so long, I was living someone else’s truth and I wasn’t living my truth and this song is an example of that,” she said. “Country music is three chords and the truth and people have so much pride in country music because of its honest music but I wasn’t being honest. This is the real first time I’ve been honest with my words and my lyrics and my message and it’s so freeing. I don’t care what way I am supposed to go, I know it is the right way because it is who I am.”
Next, Guyton will be co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards with Keith Urban on April 18 on CBS.