ACM Co-Host Mickey Guyton Tells ‘Ellen’ She Almost Quit Country Music

"Black Like Me" has changed everything, but she's still facing discrimination online.

Written by Chris Parton
ACM Co-Host Mickey Guyton Tells ‘Ellen’ She Almost Quit Country Music
In this photo released by Warner Bros., a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is seen at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif. (Photo by Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.)

Mickey Guyton appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday (April 22), just days after the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin for the death of George Floyd. And as one of country’s only mainstream African American stars, she said the fight for equality and justice continues.

The rising country star was on Ellen to chat about new motherhood and her recent gig co-hosting the 56th annual ACM Awards with Keith Urban — including how the endless wardrobe changes are probably the hardest part. Guyton changed clothes seven times over the show’s three hours, and explained that as a new mom, she wanted to prove that women “can do it all and still have careers and still have a family.”

Guyton also gave an update on her infant son, Grayson, but the most enlightening conversation had to do with her ongoing push for more inclusivity in country, which she has championed through the powerful track, “Black Like Me.” She’s made leaps and bounds since the song’s release — co-hosting the ACMs was just the loudest example. But incredibly, Guyton was going to quit country before she wrote the song. She says it changed everything.

“Yes I was,” she admitted. “I had been trying to pursue a country career for like 8 years, and constantly we were told — not only as a black woman but as a woman — why we would fail in this industry, and I was ready to give it up. It wasn’t until my husband told me that the reason I wasn’t making it in this industry was because I was running away from everything that makes me different, and that changed everything for me. And then I wrote ‘Black Like Me.'”

The track was released just a few days after the death of George Floyd… and after the many other incidents, like Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor and more, plus the continuous divisive rhetoric found on social media. And now, just a few days after Floyd’s killer was convicted of murder, she says the song’s message is still important.

“It was like, I’ve got to put this song out, not because I’m trying to make it about me, but trying to help people heal during this horrible time,” she explains. “It’s been awful, and it’s still awful. Every day there’s something. Just the other day I was called an F-ing N-word on Twitter, so it’s just a constant fight, and I hope this song gives people hope.”

“Black Like Me” is out now, and along with other socially-conscious tracks like “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” it’s helped bring her the attention she always deserved as an incredible vocalist and songwriter. But Mickey Guyton is not done yet.

“There’s plenty of times when I question, on a daily basis, why I’m still doing this,” she told DeGeneres. “And that’s when I get a message from a black girl telling me I’ve given her courage to want to pursue a career in country music, or someone in the LGBTQIA+ community telling me ‘You gave me the strength to live my truth in this genre.’ There are country artists that are now coming out and that is such a big deal … and we’re makings strides. It’s not where I want it to be, I still wish there was a Latin presence in country industry, especially when they write about Corona and tequila and having Mariachi bands in their music video. They need to see that representation, period. Not just token-izing it. So, I’m working hard!”