On Tuesday, country music artist Mickey Guyton became the first solo Black woman artist to get a Grammy nomination in a country-music category when she was nominated for best country solo performance. Guyton’s first nomination came for her autobiographical song “Black Like Me,” which she released in summer 2020.
“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.”
Mickey Guyton told NPR in June that the song had been finished and mastered in late 2019, but after the covid-19 pandemic brought everything to a halt, she “didn’t feel right trying to promote anything while people [were] suffering and not able to buy food.” But then the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd started to get national attention, and Guyton knew it was time.
“I just put ‘Black Like Me’ on my Instagram.” she said. “No permission, no nothing. I just put it out there because people need to hear that. And then Spotify called and asked for it. I was like, ‘Here. Take it. No, there doesn’t need to be promotion, because that’s tacky.’ This is not about me. This is about the bigger spectrum of things and about humanity. And that’s why we did it.”
The country song tells the story of Guyton’s childhood—of her father struggling to provide for his family and of her own struggles to fit in among her white peers in school. The lyrics to the chorus speak for themselves: “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.”
Listen to “Black Like Me” here.