“Remember Her Name,” Mickey Guyton (Capitol Records Nashville)
It’s hard enough to be Black woman in America, but Mickey Guyton’s path in country music has been especially fraught with obstacles she had to overcome. On her debut full-length album released a decade after she was initially signed to her label (a fact that itself raises questions), Guyton has proven what hasn’t killed her has only made her stronger.
The Texas singer-songwriter’s extremely personal record confronts realities that mainstream country music often refuses to acknowledge, whether calling out systemic racism on the Grammy-nominated “Black Like Me” or ingrained sexism on “What Are You Gonna Tell Her.” Guyton’s blazing vocals express pain, power and perseverance on the title track “Remember Her Name,” an anthem about emerging through the fire.
She’s also flaunting and strutting on the catwalk-ready doo-wop bop “Different,” and her vocal runs on “Lay It On Me” are a spiritual experience. On a cover of Beyonce’s hit “If I Were a Boy,” Guyton’s powerful voice hits all the emotional high notes of the tender ballad.
Guyton is honest about hitting rock bottom while still trying to make others comfortable, a relatable experience for anyone. “If I tell you the truth, will your heart be big enough to hold it,” she asks in “Do You Really Wanna Know.”
What makes Guyton stand out in country music is her empathic songwriting and an underlying optimism in humanity that doesn’t just rely white-washed nostalgia.