Mickey Guyton is the voice of today. A white-led industry presented countless roadblocks, but she stood her ground.
Empowering defiance funnels into much of her work to date, namely across her 2021 debut LP, Remember Her Name.
Guyton has more than proven her worth, and here are her 10 best songs so far:
Guyton sets fire to the rain with this gospel-soaked anthem. ‘Higher’ is doused in the power of love and human connection.
“When I'm lost in the dark, I just look for your spark,” she sings. The ecstasy of the relationship is enrapturing, her voice ascending straight up into the heavens.
The opener to her 2015 debut EP, ‘Why Baby Why’ is a prime companion piece to ‘Better Than You Left Me.’
It crackles with subdued emotion in much the same way, Guyton sculpting the melody in such a way it knocks the breath from your lungs.
‘Remember Her Name’ seeks to remind her younger self not to lose her innocence nor squelch the fire burning deep in her bones.
It’s a cyclone of a performance, the backbone to her 2021 debut LP. “Don’t let yourself forget!” she crows, vaulting into the rafters.
‘Sister’ is a call-in for women to uphold one another, as the barriers to entry affect everyone across the board.“I know it's hard being strong and not getting lost in a man's world,” urges Guyton on the opening line.
The mountain is intimidating, and the journey is better trekked together rather than alone.
Learning to love herself, Guyton wrote ‘Love My Hair’ as a way to process childhood trauma. “I found my freedom when I learned not to care,” she admits.
Existing in primarily white spaces led to ostracization about her identity as a Black woman. She specifically addresses hair and how she embraced her curls.
Guyton sends up a pounding prayer with ‘Heaven Down Here.’
Found on two EPs, including 2020’s Bridges, this confessional will always pierce with its relentless urgency.
What was true during its initial 2020 release is even more crucial now; “We could use a little more heaven down here”, she pleads.
‘Nice Things’ remains her most traditional song, Guyton unsurprisingly fitting such a classic style like a glove.
Her voice dips across the melody, a forlorn lovebird damaged from heartache; “You stole my heart and bent my wings,” she sings.
As the bluegrass sensibility guides her hand, she exorcises every broken heartstring from her body.
Where ‘Black Like Me’ confronts racism, ‘What Are You Gonna Tell Her?’ expressly deals with womanhood and growing up in a patriarchal system.
“Do you just let her pretend that she could be the president?” she prompts. It’s one of many questions Guyton asks the audience, and it might be the most profound of all.
Debut singles as good as ‘Better Than You Left Me’ are a rarity.
The moment Guyton stormed the Grand Ole Opry stage in 2015, it was evident she was a bonafide superstar.
While radio may have abandoned her, country music couldn't deny such sheer vocal talent.
One of the greatest country songs ever recorded, ‘Black Like Me’ addresses racism in America and the continuing fight for equal rights.
“If you think we live in the land of the free, you should try to be black like me,” Guyton sings, as she delivers a career-defining vocal performance.
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