By all accounts, Mickey Guyton is having a pretty swell summer. Her single “Better Than You Left Me” took a rock-bottom breakup and turned it into an anthem for moving on, and as listeners continue to identify with her sweet disposition and deep lyrics, her powerhouse vocals have propelled her to big stages. With a range that has drawn comparisons to Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill, Guyton is on the road with Brad Paisley, rocking her own material, pulling out classic country covers and often appearing during Paisley’s set for a heartwrenching duet on “Whiskey Lullaby.” We caught up with Guyton on the road this summer after her performance at Farmborough Festival, one of several blockbuster country events debuting this year. Check out highlights from the conversation below.
On how she got into music:
I grew up in the church—my dad was a deacon, and my mom was a deaconess—so I was in the angel choir at church. Our church went from Waco to Arlington to go see a Texas Rangers game when I was about 8 or 9 years old, and I will never forget it. We were all the way up in the nosebleed section, and the announcer says, “Please rise as 10-year-old Leann Rimes sings the National Anthem.” I saw her and heard her voice and I was just completely and utterly mesmerized by her. I went home and made up my own words, and when “Blue” came out I just kind of fell in love with her. Watching her and seeing someone who was close to my age make it, it was like ‘I want to do that.’
On her biggest challenges:
I’m really hard on myself. I beat myself up pretty bad—that’s a big obstacle for me. I go out and I give my life on stage, and a lot of times I walk off feeling like, ‘Oh, I could have done this better. I could have done that.’ I beat myself up a lot, and I think that for me that’s my biggest obstacle.
On what makes a country song:
“Blue” is a freakin’ country song. The melodies and the music: that’s, to me, what makes it a country song. “Coat of Many Colors,” by Dolly Parton—when you’re writing about your real life experiences, that makes a country song. She wrote the most beautiful melodies and the most beautiful words. That song, “Coat of Many Colors,” is talking about how her mom made her a coat of all these rags. My grandma, who’s about to be 91 this year, she used to make my mom and all her brothers and sisters these quilts that she literally made from scraps. When other people can relate and have similar stories, I think that’s what makes a country song.
On touring with Brad Paisley:
Brad is one of the nicest, most kind human beings. They have taken care of us beyond anything we could have even imagined. Just being on tour with him and watching him perform and watching how he treats people, it’s been amazing.
Dacey Orr is a music and culture writer based in Atlanta. You can follow her on Twitter.