Tim McGraw introduced her. Keith Urban backed her. And then Mickey Guyton made history.

During Wednesday night’s (Sept. 16) ACM Awards, Guyton performed her ballad “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” live from Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. That made Guyton the very first black female country artist to perform her own song at the show.

When the lights went down and Guyton came backstage to the virtual press conference, she opened up about the diversity and inclusiveness she’s been seeing and the progress country music has made.

“I am a witness to it. I have seen it. The ACMs are relentlessly committed to diversifying the ACM Awards. All people have to do is see themselves and feel encouraged to be a part of the community. And they can. I feel really hopeful that — as hard of a year as it’s been — it really has been beautiful to see people come together and put all of our differences aside and make the world better.”

She also shared what originally ignited her pursuit of what seemed like an unlikely dream. “That who phrase ’you see it, you can be it’ really rings true. And the only reason why I felt that I could pursue country music is because I saw another black woman singing country named Rissi Palmer. If it wasn’t for her,” she said, “I wouldn’t be here. So me standing on that stage representing just women of color period shows them that they have the opportunity too. And they can sing whatever kind of music they want to sing. It doesn’t just have to be R&B. If they want to sing country music, they can and will be accepted by this beautiful community. I’ve been pursuing music for a very long time, and just to feel embraced by the country music community — I’ve always known that they’ve been so loving, and to experience it for the first time like that — it has been overwhelming.

“I’m pregnant and hormonal, so I’ve been trying not to cry this whole time.”

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