Mickey Guyton Says Trying to Fit Into Country Music 'Box' Was 'So Toxic': 'It Was Suffocating'
Mickey Guyton struggled for years to find her place in country music — and it wasn't until she set herself free of expectations that she finally did.
In a chat with Miley Cyrus for Rolling Stone's Musicians on Musicians, Guyton, 37, said she considered herself "insane" for quite some time, as she tried over and over again to squeeze herself into the box deemed acceptable for country music singers.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. And I was insane for a long freaking time, because there's this box that women in country music are supposed to fit in, but then add on a Black woman in that box and that box is even smaller," she said. "I was given this little tiny box that was allotted to me to make some noise, but not too much noise. And it was suffocating."
The "Lay It On Me" singer said she was inspired by other artists like Kacey Musgraves, who bucked the system by doing things her way, and because she "never had the acceptance of [Nashville] in the first place," decided to take a step back and reevaluate.
RELATED VIDEO: Mickey Guyton on Breaking Barriers and Mentoring Fellow Black Country Artists: We "Deserve to Be Here"
Guyton said the realization that she had "absolutely nothing to lose" sparked a productive conversation with her husband, Grant Savoy, over "why country music wasn't working" for her.
"He said because I'm running away from everything that makes me different. He called me out so hard," she said. "It was a gut punch. I was wearing my hair and trying to dress and act like these women in country music, and it was so toxic for me."
The singer said her debut album Remember Her Name, which came out in September, is her way of releasing herself from the chains she'd put herself in.
"I didn't care where this music landed. People were like, 'Well, do you want it to get on country radio?'" she recalled. "I'm like, 'I'm not going to bank on something that never supported me to begin with.'"
Now that she's carved out a place for herself, Guyton is ready to open doors for others, as she told PEOPLE back in September.
"I truly feel that people have been wanting this change," she said. "I feel like that includes the industry, as well, and it feels incredibly good. It's not enough for just one black person to make it every 10, 25, 30, 40 years. It has to be consistently. The same with women in country music."
She made history at the Grammy Awards earlier this year when she became the first Black woman to be nominated in a country solo performance category for her song "Black Like Me."
Next month, she's up for new artist of the year at the CMA Awards.