Mickey Guyton on Representing Black Women at the ACM Awards: 'It's Been a Long Time Coming'
Catching up with correspondent Jeremy Parsons for PeopleTV's Red Carpet Live: 55th Academy of Country Music Awards preshow on Wednesday ahead of the ceremony, the "Black Like Me" singer, 37, shared what she's most excited about for the evening.
Guyton is set to perform her song "What Are You Gonna Tell Her" at the Grand Ole Opry during the broadcast, and she said the showcase at such a major country music ceremony has been "a long time coming." She is the first Black woman to perform at the show.
"Let me tell you, it has been a long time coming for me," she said. "It's been a struggle for me for a long time. To get this opportunity to represent for Black women at the ACM Awards and to sing a song about the oppression of women and trying to change that — it really does mean a lot to me to be able to do that at the ACMs."
Female artist of the year Maren Morris shouted the singer out later that evening.
"Congratulations @mickeyguyton on an amazing performance and being the FIRST BLACK WOMAN to perform at the @acmawards!" Morris wrote on her Instagram story, along with a photo of Guyton and the words "Mickey makes history."
Follow along with all of PEOPLE's 2020 ACM Awards coverage here.
Guyton — who announced last month that she's currently expecting her first child with husband Grant Savoy — is partnering with Wells Fargo and Feeding America during the award show to help provide 50 million meals to those suffering from food insecurity and raise awareness on the issue of hunger during the pandemic, PEOPLE announced exclusively on Thursday.
Back in June, Guyton opened up to PEOPLE about carving her place in the country music scene. The artist is the only Black female country artist signed to a major label, navigating a predominantly white male genre.
Guyton signed with her label in 2011, but once she joined a pool of white women already scrapping for radio play, recalling a pressure she felt to not be Black and instead fit in a mold.
"I wanted to prove that I was country," she said, "and prove that I could be in this space of people that I don't look like, and that they would feel comfortable and they wouldn't see that I was Black, but just saw that I was a great country singer. And doing that, I lost who I was, to be honest. And it took a long time for me to find myself."
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Guyton said her turning point came two years ago during a marriage counseling session she attended with her husband. "I started looking at myself as an artist, and what exactly did I have to offer?" she remembered. "And I started thinking, what can I write and sing about that's true to me? So I started just singing everything about my marriage."
Another game-changing moment came when she asked her husband why he thought her music wasn't connecting. His response, she said, was immediate: "Because you're running away from everything that makes you different."
"After he told me that," Guyton said, "I was, like, oh my God. Okay, well, I need to just write about being a Black woman. That's my story."
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards airs live from Nashville on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS
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