“Overdue” is an understatement when it comes to Mickey Guyton’s debut album.
It’s called “Remember Her Name,” and was released on Friday — a full decade after the country singer signed her record deal in Nashville. It’s a result of Guyton writing her most personal and candid work yet, as heard in “Black Like Me,” which earned a Grammy nomination last year.
Ahead of the album’s release, we talked to Guyton about her journey — which you can read about in our new Hallowed Sound, Vol. 2 section — and focused on five pivotal songs.
“Remember Her Name”
The album’s title track is partially inspired by the “Say Her Name” movement, which surged during 2020 protests for Breonna Taylor.
“I wrote it with her in mind, but then it also turned into my story of perseverance,” Guyton says.
“When we’re younger, the world is our oyster and we’re so excited for all of the possibilities. And then life gets in the way, and can often take away everything that made you who you are, and your confidence. What I was trying to say is, ‘Remember that girl that used to be so strong, that used to take conflict like it was nothing, and leaned into it.’ So when you feel like you’ve lost yourself, you actually haven’t. She’s been there all along.”
Debuted on stage during the “CMA Summer Jam” concert in Nashville this past July, “All American” finds Guyton telling a diverse nation that we’ve “got the same stars, the same stripes…ain’t we all all-American?”
“I want to remind people that what makes America great are differences,” she says. “So just like you have James Dean, we also love James Brown…That was something that was really important for me, for people to know that I still see you. I’m not some self righteous person that doesn’t see everybody.”
“Black Like Me”
“If you think we live in the land of the free/ You should try to be Black like me,” Guyton sings on her Grammy-nominated song.
She wrote it in 2019, and shared a snippet of the demo on social media in May of 2020, as protests for George Floyd and others surged across the country. Due to overwhelming demand, the song was released just one week later.
“I’m excited to be able to finally build a career, but it’s built off of a song that was really painful,” Guyton says. “It’s built off of moments in our country that have been really painful. And people don’t necessarily realize that. They’re like, ‘Oh, she’s getting all this attention, everything’s great.’ But they don’t understand what comes with that.”
“What Are You Gonna Tell Her”
The song that ushered in this exciting new chapter of Guyton’s career was actually written at the point “where I reached desperation,” she says.
“I had no other answers. I had exhausted every effort… And so I wrote a song just because I was sad and seeing what the industry does specifically to women and people of color.”
On the ballad, she sings about a young woman who “thinks life is fair…Skin’s just skin and it doesn’t matter/ And that her friend’s older brother’s gonna keep his hands to himself/ And that somebody’s gonna believe her when she tells.”
“But what are you gonna tell her when she’s wrong?” she asks in the chorus. “Will you just shrug and say it’s been that way all along?”
Hands down, the most fun and funky moment on the album (though the bubbly “Rosé” is right behind). Over a brisk finger-snapping rhythm, Guyton implores her listeners to celebrate “what makes you different/ Don’t need permission/ Go ahead and just flaunt it.”
“It’s not a country song, but it’s me embracing my inner self, and hopefully encouraging other people to as well,” she says. “I’m really excited for people to see that.”