After a year further inflamed by a nationwide reckoning with race, country music artist Mickey Guyton made Grammy Awards history Tuesday when she was nominated for country solo performance.
The first-time nominee, who was recognized for her autobiographical song “Black Like Me,” became the first Black female solo artist to earn a Grammy nod in a country-music category. It’s a belated honor considering the genre’s debt to the Black banjo tradition and veteran stars such as Charley Pride.
“I am speechless,” Guyton said in a statement Tuesday. “This nomination is a testament to never give up and live your truth. I can’t think of a better song to make history with than ‘Black Like Me’ and I hope that I can continue to help open doors for other women and people who look like me.”
The Texas native cowrote the summer song with Nathan Chapman, Fraser Churchill and Emma Davidson-Dillon at a cross-genre writing camp in 2019, according to Universal Music’s Capitol Records Nashville. “Black Like Me” is featured on her “Bridges” EP.
The “polished country-pop singer has largely been ignored by radio and, as a Black woman, falls into a demographic vastly underrepresented in the format,” Jewly Hight wrote in The Times in April.
When the Grammys take place Jan. 31, Guyton, 37, will face off with Eric Church (“Stick That in Your Country Song”), Brandy Clark (“Who You Thought I Was”), Vince Gill (“When My Amy Prays”) and Miranda Lambert (“Bluebird”).
Guyton’s “Black Like Me,” which draws on the country tradition of resisting classist condescension and connects it to her life experience, is about how she struggled to fit in and how her father strived to provide middle-class stability for their family.
“It’s a hard life on easy street / Just white-painted picket fences far as you can see / If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try to be Black like me,” she sings.
The recording artist was also online Tuesday morning to help the Recording Academy unveil the nominees across 84 categories.
Also for the first time in Grammys history, the country album category was filled with women — making a clear statement by the Recording Academy at a moment when female artists have struggled to get their music played on country radio.