Country music sensation Mickey Guyton has been named Time Magazine’s 2022 Breakthrough Artist of the Year. She is the inaugural winner of the prestigious honor.
Ever since her arrival on the scene, Guyton has skyrocketed into superstardom and has taken country music to new heights with her unique sound that infuses the genre with pop and R&B influences.
Her debut album, Remember Her Name, was released in September 2021 to rave reviews. Moreover, Guyton made history as the first Black nominee for Best Country Album at the Grammys.
This year, Guyton has performed on several high-profile stages, including A Capitol Fourth in Washington D.C., onstage with Metallica at Global Citizen Festival in New York, and at the Nashville Symphony. Her rendition of the National Anthem at Super Bowl LVI was seen by over 110 million viewers.
“It was the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Guyton said describing her Super Bowl performance. “I felt like I was about to give birth for the first time or walk down the aisle and get married to the wrong guy.”
“To be honest, it’s really hard right now with what’s going on in this country,” she said. “I wanted to be proud of singing the national anthem. So if you had noticed the choir, it was really important to show what I saw America as. We chose someone with a disability, a Black trans woman, an Asian man.”
Always committed to speaking her truth, Guyton has not been shy about critiquing the world of country music for its long history of racism. She’s been open about her struggles to receive radio play and that all the progress that was made in 2020 around race injustice has almost disappeared in the industry.
“I am seeing it very much going back to your regularly scheduled programming, and that’s something I’m scared about,” she explained.
She also spoke about the sexism that still runs rampant in country music circles. So far in 2022, only white males have had No. 1 songs on the Billboard Country Charts.
“There are a lot more Black country artists that have loved the genre but didn’t think there was a space for them that are migrating to Nashville and trying to have careers,” she continued. “But if you study the country-music charts, they’re against women and people of color.”
Guyton’s newest song “I Still Pray,” was written in response to the mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store this past May. She said that the tragedy sparked her creativity as she tried to make sense of it all.
“I was so affected by it. And with everything happening, with two shootings happening in the same week, this song has an importance right now because I literally don’t have the answers. I’ve spent so many years outraged by everything and I don’t have the ability to be outraged anymore because it’s so exhausting,” she said.
Despite the challenges she’s encountered as a Black woman in a space dominated by white men, Guyton’s meteoric rise cannot be denied and she is primed to be a superstar in country music and beyond for years to come. LeAnn Rimes, one of her idols, with whom she collaborated with this year, gave her glowing endorsement.
“Mickey is coming into her own authenticity as a country artist and writing about her personal heartaches and triumphs, speaking from her heart and spirit, and pushing against the tide of conventionality,” Rimes said. “That is what country music needs to always be about.”