Editor’s Note: In celebration of Women’s History Month, You Sing I Write is highlighting female country artists and songwriters throughout March.
Mickey Guyton made her Grammy debut at tonight’s Grammy Awards. The singer earned a nod for Best Country Solo Performance for “Black Like Me,” making Guyton the first solo Black woman nominated in any country category. While she ultimately lost to Vince Gill and his song, “When My Amy Prays,” the singer won over the audience with a powerful performance of “Black Like Me.”
During a set that highlighted the women of country music, Guyton commanded the stage with the stirring and autobiographical song as backing singers gave the feel of a gospel choir. Donning a floor-length gold gown, Guyton captivated with emotive vocals alongside delicate piano, wavering pedal steel and string accompaniment. Fellow Grammy nominees Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris looked on before they followed with their respective one-song sets.
Ahead of the broadcast, Guyton said in an interview with Grammy.com that she wrote “Black Like Me” nearly three years ago. She penned the song after news broke about the murder of Botham Jean in his home in Dallas, Texas.
“I was so affected by that and when I wrote this song I never thought that it would see the light of day,” she said. “I wrote a song being like, ‘Life may be easy for some people but there’s other people it’s not.’ I wrote this song based off of the book Black Like Me that I read in college. It’s about a white man who darkened his skin to make him look like a Black man in the 1960s and went to the deep South to see what it was like to be Black in America.
“I was just writing a song from my heart and my own experience and it turns out to be so many people’s experiences and it’s not just Black people,” she continued. “I’m thinking of all the people that I know have had a difficult time. My husband has experienced police brutality and I saw it for myself. In thinking about my son, I want life to be easier for him than it was for me. Just like what my parents did for me so I’m going to channel that in this performance.”
“Black Like Me” is featured on Guyton’s 2020 Bridges EP. Listen to the project below on Spotify or on your preferred platform.