Mickey Guyton Nearly Quit Before the ACM Awards Came Calling
Mickey Guyton says 2020 was a very good year for her, but the truth is, it was a career-saving year. The "Black Like Me" singer and newly announced 2021 ACM Awards host admits she came close to quitting.
"Absolutely, multiple times," Guyton told Taste of Country prior to the 2020 ACMs in Nashville. Professionally, she was misfiring with radio singles, which lessened demand for her as a live performer. Her debut, "Better Than You Left Me," peaked inside the Top 40 in 2015, but since then, she's met little but frustration.
Two unlikely songs and one difficult personal decision changed her course.
"I was just — you know, it's so hard," the 2021 ACM Awards nominee said. "It's such a personal industry. Like, even though it's impersonal, your music is so personal to you, you know. And having to do this and just hope that people like you is hard. Like, you feel like it's the first day of school and you don't know anybody and you just want people to like you. And it's -- it can be hard on your mental morale, to be honest."
The plan was to do anything but music until 2020 began. The Grammy performer admits both "Black Like Me" and "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?" are polarizing songs, and goes as far as to say she didn't even expect anyone to hear them, let alone be asked to sing either at an awards show.
"They were kind of like therapy songs for me, and what I was inspired by," Guyton says. "I didn't write these songs with any intention other than getting something off my chest and not being able to not feel like I couldn't speak about it ... and then people started responding to it so well."
In September, at the 2020 ACM Awards, Guyton performed the lyrics brilliantly with an admittedly nervous Keith Urban supporting her on piano. A Grammy nomination followed, then an ask to perform at the Grammys on CBS.
In late February, Guyton was announced as a nominee in the New Female Artist of the Year category at the 2021 ACM Awards. Then, the biggie: a call from Urban to be his co-host at the April 18 show.
What really changed? "I had to put [my frustrations] to the side and go to therapy and learn to accept myself, quit drinking -- that helped a lot -- clear my mind," Guyton says, "and now, here I am."
There she will be, onstage in Nashville as the first Black woman to host the ACM Awards. It's worth noting that Guyton also had a baby between last September and now: Her son Grayson is the singer and her husband Grant's first child, and she's soaking it all up.
"I've never been on this side of blessings before," Guyton says. "Like, I don't like to get preachy with people, but like when God has a plan, he really has a plan, and you literally — when you don't think he's listening, he is; when you don't think he has a plan, he does; and then whenever his plan unfolds, it's so overwhelming to see it, and I'm so grateful I didn't quit."
The 2021 ACM Awards are set to air on CBS at 8PM ET. The show will take place from the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe, all in Music City.