Black, Female and Carving Out Their Own Path in Country Music
Mickey, once you stopped trying to please people, did you feel that your music became more authentic?
GUYTON Yes. I wrote a drinking song called “Rose” about three years ago. And I was just like, “Who doesn’t love a girl? If there is a song that country radio will finally accept from me, this will be the one.”
I played it for the label. Cricketer. Some white radio promo guy said, “Yeah, but I don’t know if this song is going to bring Mickey back,” and everything derails. It put me in the deepest, deepest, scary depression I’ve felt in my entire life, because I realized that everything I did was never enough. Because of course if a white girl performed this song, they would have a pink hotel and the whole thing with a music video and drinks.
At that time I was trying to make these people happy. I heard about a woman in Capitol Records, and I was going to talk to her about this. We were in a restaurant around the corner from the record label, and the hostess said, “Would you like to sit in our lighted lounge today?” I was like, “Actually, I’m sure [expletive] Can. “We sat there, and I made up my mind. I am going to write my truth. And not only that, I am going to find every black female country singer who is, and also to open that door, because the only way it will ever work is if we find each other and we are looking for each other. Let’s bring
I myself released “Black Like Me”. And I did this only because I saw that unjust deaths occurred, as did everyone on this call. I’m guessing maybe some people than there might be some other reason for it out there. And it took its own life.
And now you have a Grammy nomination.
GUYTON right. This is our Grammy nomination, by the way
Here it gets complicated: Hopefully, the day will come where we cannot name all black country artists because there are so many. But you also don’t want to lose that powerful element of identity that a song like “Black Like Me” reported. How do you ensure that Black is a part of your music, but not just a story?
Spencer Well, I am the new kid on the block. I have released an EP, and I wanted four songs that I felt talking about throughout. I write just about anything, sing about everything. And hopefully the puzzle makes sense for people. But for me, it is important to just talk about the things I want to talk about, and that includes being a black woman. People have to understand that in general no artist is just one thing.