The 'Black Like Me' singer is opening up about her early experiences trying to make her way in the country music business.
Mickey Guyton is breaking ground in country music and blazing her own trail as she defies expectations. Now, the celebrated songstress is looking back at the earlier days in her career and the obstacles she faced before she ever got a chance to make it big.
"I've been the only Black woman in the room from an early age, and I do find myself having anxiety about it," Guyton recently shared in an interview with Elle for Oprah Daily and Hearst Magazines’ Project Tell Me: Future Rising, a storytelling initiative which celebrates the profound impact of Black culture on American life. "I've been the only Black woman a lot, like my whole life. I did sing at concerts in front of Confederate flags, and that was something that was hard."
Throughout Guyton's career in country music, being a Black female artist has led to some in the industry not willing to give her a chance, or questioning her ability to succeed. The singer reflected on how she'd been told there was no space for her in the country music landscape, "not only as a Black woman but as a woman."
She reflected on a meeting she once took with a record label, and remembered how "one of the label heads was questioning me and my authenticity and grilling me on country music, and if I knew it or not."
“I grew up in the South on gravel dirt roads," Guyton noted. "Shouldn’t that be enough?"
Not all of the pushback she's faced has come in the form of thinly veiled bigotry -- she's also been subjected to blatant racism during her time as a singer.
"I was doing an after-show signing and I went to hug this kid who had Down syndrome, and as I was going to hug him, somebody walked by and said, 'Everybody's waiting for the N-word,'" she shared. "I remember someone in line turning around, mortified, but nobody stood up for me."
"One thing I realized as I was trying to figure out how to make a mark on this industry ... I realized that it was not enough to just see one Black person every 15 to 25, 30 years make it," she said. "You need to see a sea of people of color, Black people, make it in this industry so it's not taboo to see it. That is how you truly find change and success."
ET recently spoke with Guyton about performing with Black Pumas for a new episode of CMT Crossroads, and the songstress explained how excited she felt over having the chance to be a part of the musical series.
"Getting the opportunity to do CMT Crossroads has been amazing," Guyton shared. "I've been really stressed out about it, to be honest, 'cause it's a big deal, you know? There's so many incredible icons that have done this and it's just really cool to be able to do this."
She also reflected on how she teamed up with Black Pumas for the occasion, recalling, "I was like, 'Man, who could I do Crossroads with that would make sense? That would be really, really cool?' And [Black Pumas was] one of the names that was thrown out. I was like, 'Of course! I would love to do it with the Black Pumas! Let's put that energy out there!'"
"When I think of the Black Pumas, I feel like you're at a revival. Like you're revived and energized when you see their shows and it's just, it's everybody's music. It's soul, it's rock, it's everything! And it was just an amazing opportunity," she added.
Guyton and Black Pumas team up on a new CMT Crossroads, which airs Wednesday, June 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.