Country singers Mickey Guyton and Breland join forces on the latest episode of Land of the BRE Radio on Apple Music Country to talk about their collaboration on the “Cross Country” remix. Their new single illustrates a modern, inclusive vision of what it looks like to belong in the country music industry.
“I really felt so honored, because I’ve been watching what you’re doing and as someone from the outside—which I know exactly how that feels—you’re so brave and bold and beautifully you,” Guyton explains. “And you’re bringing so much love, such love, and light into Nashville. And to be able to be a part of it—I was actually intimidated because of how amazing of a singer you are and how amazing of a writer you are. And I just wanted so hard to do you justice.”
Following the success of her statement single, “Black Like Me,” Guyton took a stand on the 2021 Grammy stage with a galvanizing performance of her first Grammy-nominated song. She describes the feeling of her peers nominating “Black Like Me” as Best Country Solo Performance as “overwhelming,” adding “that’s a testament to Nashville, the progressiveness of the town…So I’m so grateful for that—that people saw me and saw that and heard that song because I wouldn’t have gotten any other opportunities unless they did that.”
Her dynamic vocal contributions enlivened Breland’s messaging further. The explorative track, delivered by two pioneers of the modern Nashville music scene, expands the under-communicated issues of racial equality. By sparking conversation about race within the industry, the two artists are opening doors for other people of color, setting a new example of what it means to be a country artist in Music City.
Breland responds humbly to her praise, saying, “You did your thing and I’m so grateful and even more honored.” He continues, “You are a young legend in the making and for me to have you on this song at this time in this type of a year and climate is so significant to me, and I’m just blown away that I even have you on the record in the first place.”
The Crawford, Texas-native is not new to the scene. After graduating from Santa Monica City College, Guyton met producer Julian Raymond. His interest in her talent introduced her to several country music stakeholders who brought her to Nashville where she became part of the prolific community of country songwriters.
“You would think a girl in L.A., from Texas, how does she get to Nashville?” Guyton laughs. “Where I am right now in my life, I can’t take credit for it, honestly. It’s still unbelievable to me. But I said I wanted to sing country music and I had no way of knowing how to do that.
She credits Dolly Parton and LeAnn Rimes for her initial interest in country music. She explains, “they are my reason.” Then it was Rissi Palmer and Linda Martel in Nashville, singing country music that gave her courage.
Now, having claimed her stake, she is proud to lead Nashville in the right direction. But she and Breland both acknowledge the work that still needs to be done.
“I did a year’s worth of Zoom sessions, educating many people in the country music industry about my experiences as a Black person, as a Black woman,” she explains. “And here we are, it’s 2021, about a year later, and I don’t see very many female or male Black, brown artists being signed at record labels. And granted we’re in a pandemic, so I’m trying to take note of that and be understanding of that. But where is the change?”
Listen to Guyton and Breland discuss their new collaboration on Apple Music’s Land of the BRE Radio. Watch the lyric video for “Cross Country” below.