Mickey Guyton opens up about sexism and racism in country music

Country star Mickey Guyton performs at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1 in New York City. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images)

Mickey Guyton – the first black woman to be nominated for a Grammy for a solo performance, for her song “Black Like Me” – remembers thinking once she hooked up with a producer that mainstream success was her thing. would come in a few years. . This is not the case.

“It was extremely difficult. And not only is it difficult for a black woman, but it’s difficult for women, period, in country music,” Guyton said Tuesday on Facebook Watch. Face to face with Becky G. “Like, the data is there. Women are mostly discriminated against in country music, and that’s wrong. You know, girls like me and girls like you are put in these boxes, and that’s where we belong. . And I’ve had people trying to tell me who I am. “

Guyton says her handlers didn’t want her to draw attention to her race.

“Imagine someone telling you that and what it does to you mentally,” she told Becky G. “You get lost and I got lost for a very long time. And that was really hard.”

The Texas native said it was only the inspiration of a former black woman – Rissi Palmer, who made it to the country music charts in 2007 – that gave her the courage to try. to succeed in the genre she loves. She released her first song “Better Than You Left Me” in 2015, which led to a booming career … which is not without challenges.

Related: Mickey Guyton Admits Disliking His Skin Early In His Career: ‘Wish I Had Lighter Skin & Blue Eyes’

On the one hand, Guyton noted that something as simple as dressing for an event or photoshoot is more complicated than it needs to be.

“Like, imagine you’re getting ready to do a music video and you have all these unlike you chatting about your hair. And you say, ‘Well, that’s the diaper over there.’ , Guyton said. “Glam has always been a problem. I asked them, I kept saying, ‘Does this photographer know how to photograph a black person?’ They’d say, “Well, yeah. They say they do. “And then I was like, ‘OK. Well, does this makeup artist know how to make a black person’s face?’ And they’d say, “Well, yeah. She says she does. “And then I turned around in the makeup chair, and I looked dusty and crusty and ashy and gray… It was mentally debilitating for me, for you to have to step on a red carpet or shooting a music video knowing you don’t. I don’t feel my best. And it happened to me for years, like, until 2020, I handled this. “

By this time Guyton had started doing his own research.

“I started to search on social media. And I started to search,” the singer said. “I’m like, ‘OK, do they say they can do black makeup and hair?’ And I’m looking and I’m like ‘I don’t see any black people on their page.’ “

Guyton said the racial calculation of the past few years has changed things for the better.

When Becky G noted that “Performance matters,” in country music or elsewhere, she agreed.

“For so long I think we were used to it,” Guyton said. “We’re used to not being seen. We’re used to micro-aggression. We’re used to constant battles of just trying to be who you are. And finally the veil has been lifted, and we’re like, ‘ Oh my God, how did we survive so long? And that’s the point, we were just surviving. And now we’re thriving. “

Guyton released the album Remember his name – the name was inspired by Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old black woman who was shot dead in her apartment by police in 2020 during a raid on the wrong residence – in September. The title track earned him two more Grammy nominations, while the entire album was nominated for “Best Country Album.”

Toya J. Bell