Mickey Guyton talks love of Dolly Parton, following your dreams, and the best advice she ever received from her mom
At the age of 8, when she saw LeAnn Rimes perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a Texas Rangers game, Mickey Guyton made it her goal to become a country music singer. Now, 26 years later, she is making her dreams come true — one day at a time.
Guyton — whose real name is Candace Mycale Guyton — was born in Arlington back in June 1983. After failing to make it on American Idol, Guyton signed with Capitol Nashville in 2011 and has since released two EPs (2014’s Unbreakable and 2015’s self-titled offering), and three singles (2015’s “Better Than You Left Me,” 2016’s “Heartbreak Song,” and 2017’s “Nice Things”), debuted at the legendary Grand Ole Opry, and famously covered “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from Disney’s Frozen, in addition to earning a 2016 Academy of Country Music nomination for New Female Vocalist of the Year.
The 34-year-old — who lists Miranda Lambert’s “House That Built Me” as a song “very near to my heart” and one she wishes belonged to her — isn’t done, though. If she wasn’t making history as one of the very few Black singers in the country genre, Guyton said she wouldn’t have strayed far, going down the path of being a vocal coach with her very own vocal studio because, as she put it, “I’d love to help other people make their dreams in music come true.”
A Plus caught up with Guyton to discuss everything from being both Black and a woman in a genre dominated by men, how she has overcome any challenges along the way, her love of classic country music (yes, including Dolly Parton), and much more.
A PLUS: What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given, and how do you apply it in your daily life and/or career?
MICKEY GUYTON: My mom told me to find my purpose within my purpose. My purpose is to lift people up through my songs. When I get down or discouraged, it’s because I’m not pursuing the purpose within my purpose. Once I snap into that frame of mind, I’m good.
We see that you have been very outspoken in your support for women, artists and otherwise. Why is that so important to you?
It’s important to me because it can be hard for us out there. That’s what is so beautiful about Nashville, we are all about lifting each other up. If one person wins, we all win — and celebrate that!
Women in country music don’t get as much radio play as their male counterparts — and I can only imagine that is even more difficult for a Black artist, too. Why do you think there’s so much emphasis placed on “bro country” these days, and is that tide shifting?
Honestly, it’s hard being a woman in country music, period. For a while there was a huge emphasis on “bro country” and I like that type of country music but I do feel that the tide is shifting. This is a really exciting time for country music because you see different trends developing and so many different sounds coming out of Nashville right now. People want to hear real country songs these days.
There definitely are influential Black people in the history of country music, but not that many. Growing up, who did you look up to in the genre and why those specific people?
I looked up to Dolly Parton because that’s who my grandma used to listen to. I also loved how fearless Dolly was and still is. The country music genre was and still can be pretty conservative, but Dolly completely defied that with amazing songs, an amazing mind, and a bold look. She showed her curves and was proud of it. To me, it’s really cool to own who you are like that and that is why I love her.
Have you ever been discouraged to or faced challenges about pursuing a career in country music and, if so, how do you overcome negativity to continue following your dreams?
Absolutely. I get discouraged and frustrated sometimes, just like everyone who is chasing a dream with everything they have does. Music is hard because it’s so personal. I put everything I have into the songs I put out. I get through it by being as positive as I possibly can. I have moments where I don’t feel like getting up and writing a song but I do it anyway. I just remember that there are hard days no matter what profession you choose. No one is exempt from that. I always try to keep that in mind. I also have an incredible support system and community in Nashville of friends, other artists, and writers who are so encouraging, and my fans, too! Seeing their messages and comments every day helps me to stay motivated.
What is the most inspiring thing a fan has told you in regard to what your success in country music has meant to them?
I have young girls of many different races and backgrounds messaging me on my social media platforms, telling me that I inspire them to pursue their dreams in country music. To me, that is amazing and keeps me going.
We know you’re a massive fan of legends such as Dolly Parton and chose to sing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” for President Obama — are you naturally drawn to classic country? Why?
I’m definitely naturally drawn to country music just because that’s what I grew up around in Texas. That’s what I grew up listening to. I’m also drawn to soulful music because I grew up singing in the church. That’s what I liked to sing.
What’s the biggest misconception or assumption you think people have about country music that is totally wrong in your opinion?
Some people may automatically think it’s just twangy music. They have no idea the skill set of these songwriters and musicians in this town to be able to tell a story. It’s very humbling. Also, country music isn’t just music — it’s a way of life and how we grew up.
And finally, what should we expect from your new music? Any themes, inspirations, or collaborations in particular?
I’ve really enjoyed the process of making music and my journey to where I am now. I am so excited to continue to get new songs out to the fans that show different aspects of who I am and different experiences that I have had. You should expect country music that shares my stories, what inspires me, and hopefully helps brighten people’s day.
By A Plus’ Carson Blackwelder
Buy and/or stream Mickey Guyton’s newest single, “Nice Things,” here.
The A Plus Interview reimagines the celebrity interview by inviting artists to answer a short series of brief, poignant questions that strive to be more meaningful than those asked by others. Visit on the last Thursday of each month for the latest installment.