31 Days of Women: Mickey Guyton

Credit: Phylicia J.L. Munn

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 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.

Concert Reviews

Tin Pan South 2017 Takes Over Nashville

The 25th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival was held last week in Nashville, Tenn. The world’s largest songwriters festival, the week included nightly showcases around Music City featuring some of the biggest talent in country music. I was on hand to cover the festival where I spent my nights catching sets by Old Dominion, Mickey Guyton, Kristian Bush, Craig Campbell and many more.

The combined talents of Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen alongside frequent collaborators Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne amass countless No. 1 songs that include everyone from Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley to Miranda Lambert and Sam Hunt. The friends and co-writers kicked off night one of the 25th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival on Tuesday (March 28) at The Listening Room in Nashville where the evening served as part writers round and part comedy show.

Ramsey, Rosen, McAnally and Osborne have been writing together for years and that camaraderie was showcased throughout their 90-minute set as the good friends frequently finished each other’s sentences and poked fun at each other. “We’re going to play some songs for you guys,” he told the packed room. “Hopefully you’ll know some of these. We are not all collectively Old Dominion but half of us are.”

McAnally then jumped in, pointing to Ramsey and Rosen while telling the crowd they were Old Dominion and he and Osborne were Young Dominion as the audience laughed. After back-to-back No. 1 songs with McAnally’s “American Kids” which was a hit for Chesney and Rosen’s “Sangria” which topped the charts for Blake Shelton, it was Ramsey’s turn to play.

“I remember moving to Nashville and wanting to be a part of Tin Pan South and I couldn’t afford to even come into a show so this is nice to be here,” he reflected. “It’s even weirder that I’m about to play a song that’s a hit that I wrote that I also am in the band that performs it. It’s pretty mind blowing whenever that happens.”

He then segued into Old Dominion’s most recent No. 1 with “Song for Another Time” as fellow band member Rosen assisted on guitar and harmonies. For my complete recap on their showcase, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

The Late Late Night with Creative Nation showcase at Tin Pan South 2017 was one not to be missed and those attending the songwriters festival were well aware as the line to get into the show wrapped around the building and down the street of the Listening Room. For nearly two hours on Wednesday (March 29), those lucky enough to get in the door witnessed four of Nashville’s most respected songwriters perform up-close and tell the stories behind their hit songs.

Longtime friends and co-writers Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna, Luke Laird and Barry Dean, all writers with Creative Nation, played in the round and the evening tugged on the emotions. At one point, after several heavy-hitting songs were played, Dean joked that maybe Kleenex should be a sponsor while Laird advised the audience to take an Uber home.

“After a night of hearing some more of these songs you may want to call an Uber. There is going to be a lot of alcohol sold and a lot of picking yourself up off the ground,” Laird reasoned.

Fittingly, Hemby kicked off the round with her most recent No. 1 song, Justin Moore’s “You Look Like I Need a Drink.”

“If you live in Nashville you have to write a drinking song eventually,” she mused. “We’re a drinking town with a music problem.” Read my recap here.

Additional highlights of Tin Pan South included the CMA Songwriters Series showcase, Mickey Guyton, Rick Brantley, Victoria Banks and Tenille at The Station Inn and Kristian Bush and Craig Campbell’s set at 3rd & Lindsley.