Mickey Guyton will perform on her biggest stage yet this Sunday, when the Arlington native sings the national anthem before Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.
The woman born Candace Guyton has long fought against sexism and outright racism to claim her place as part of country music’s vanguard. Sunday’s performance is merely the latest stop on a long, frustrating and challenging road Guyton has traveled over the last decade-plus, contrary to the appearance of relatively overnight success.
The Texas connection
The 38-year-old Guyton grew up in North Texas, singing in Mount Olive Baptist Church, and becoming inspired to pursue a career in country music when she saw a young and not-yet-famous LeAnn Rimes sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to a Texas Rangers game.
“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,’” Guyton told CMT in 2015. “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.”
Making Her Name known
Guyton’s debut full-length album, Remember Her Name, arrived in late 2021, but it was far from her first release on a major label. Beginning in 2014, Guyton released a series of EPs on Capitol Nashville, including that year’s Unbreakable, followed by a 2015 self-titled effort, 2020’s Bridges and another self-titled EP in 2021, ahead of Name.
Name, anchored by powerful singles like “Black Like Me” and “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?,” garnered Guyton considerable critical and industry acclaim.
A golden future?
Guyton’s year may get even better after her Super Bowl performance. She’s competing for three Grammys at this year’s ceremony, currently scheduled to take place April 3 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, after an initial postponement due to COVID-19 concerns. Guyton made history as the first Black woman to be nominated for Best Country Solo Performance, and is also nominated for Best Country Album and Best Country Song. While Guyton is scheduled to perform at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo on Feb. 20, she has no other Texas dates currently on the horizon.
Preston Jones is a freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT.
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