Mickey Guyton was just eight years old when she first saw LeAnn Rimes perform, but the memory of seeing the then-10-year-old Rimes behind the mic has stuck with the up-and-coming country singer.

“My church drove to Arlington, Texas, from Waco to see a Texas Rangers baseball game,” Guyton tells CMT. “We were all the way up in the nosebleed section, and the announcer says, ‘Please rise as 10-year-old LeAnn Rimes sings the National Anthem.’”

At the time, Rimes was still four years away from earning acclaim with her debut song "Blue," but Guyton says that she was “already stuck on [Rimes]," and by the time "Blue" became a smash hit, she “was just done." Guyton took that inspiration and started performing on stage for small crowds in her hometown.

“I started doing solos in the church choir or when the school had a talent show,” she says. “I’d bring my boom box, and I’d sing "I Will Always Love You." I was just mesmerized by big-voiced women. So from LeAnn, I started listening to Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline and Patty Loveless and Reba McEntire and Faith Hill and Martina McBride.”

Despite the inspiration she got from Rimes, who began her country music career quite young, the "Better Than You Left Me" singer has taken a longer path to making the decision to take music seriously. She just recently released her self-titled debut EP, at 31 years old. Guyton says that it took her a while to publicly admit that she wanted to pursue a singing career.

“It wasn’t until I was older when I finally admitted it,” she explains. “When you say something like that, it’s pretty crazy. What are we normally supposed to be? We’re supposed to be a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, go to school. And for me to even say that was just kind of crazy.”

But Guyton's voice is obviously meant to be heard by country fans. In addition to her EP release, Guyton is currently on the road with Brad Paisley's 2015 Crushin’ It World Tour. The pair recently performed a version of Paisley's "Whiskey Lullaby" during a show in Raleigh, N.C.; check out video of the duet here.

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