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Super Bowl LVI national anthem: who is Mickey Guyton? What songs has she released?

Texan singer Mickey Guyton, the first Black female solo artist to be nominated for a Grammy in a country category, will perform "The Star Spangled Banner" at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

Super Bowl LVI national anthem: who is Mickey Guyton? What songs has she released?
Francis SpeckerAFP

Country singer Mickey Guyton, a recipient of multiple Grammy Award nominations, will sing the US national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner” at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, before the Los Angeles Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

Guyton’s selection for the traditional pre-game performance was confirmed at the start of February, the singer tweeting in the wake of the news: “I am shook, I am grateful, I am praise dancing”.

Guyton inspired by LeAnn Rimes, Whitney Houston

Born in Arlington, Texas, Guyton was inspired to go into country music when, as a child, she heard LeAnn Rimes sing the US national anthem at a Texas Rangers baseball game.

Another performance that left an indelible mark on a young Guyton, the 38-year-old told the LA Times this week, was the late Whitney Houston’s memorable rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” before Super Bowl XXV in January 1991.

“I’ve heard a lot of anthems, but I feel like she evoked the truest meaning of America when she sang it,” she said. “I felt so proud to be an American after that. I was like, ‘Yes! America!' That’s what I want, to feel that again. I want everyone to feel that again.”

Guyton, who regularly sang "The Star Spangled Banner" at high-school basketball games, has already performed the national anthem at a number of major events, such as the 2021 National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, DC.

Nominated for Grammy for 2020 single "Black Like Me"

In 2020, her breakthrough single “Black Like Me” saw her became the first Black female solo artist to be nominated for a Grammy Award in a country category (Best Country Solo Performance).

A ballad about racial inequality and her struggle as a Black woman to make an impact in white male-dominated country music, the song departs from the genre’s typically patriotic tone, with lyrics such as, “If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try to be Black like me”.

“For some reason in country music, they want just everything to be light and fluffy, but my world isn’t always light and fluffy,” Guyton told Rolling Stone in a June 2020 interview about her reasons for writing “Black Like Me”.

The song’s message particularly resonated with listeners due to the timing of its release, just days after Black man George Floyd was murdered by white police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, sparking protests throughout the US and the world.

Prompted by the evident clash between the references to “the land of the free” in “Black Like Me” and “The Star Spangled Banner”, Guyton’s feelings about patriotism are an issue she has been asked about as she prepares to perform the national anthem.

For Guyton, patriotism should be about far more than a simple love of one’s country.

“What does patriotism mean? Anybody can wave a flag, but is that patriotism?” she told the LA Times. “I can buy a flag right now on Amazon, so is that patriotism? For me, it’s deeper. I feel like a patriot is loving everybody, a patriot is someone who sees people hurting and wants to do everything in their power to fix it. And patriotism is inclusion.”

“Black Like Me” was released as part of Guyton’s extended play Bridges - the singer’s third EP, following Unbreakable in 2014 and Mickey Guyton in 2015.

Guyton up for three Grammys at 2022 Awards

In September last year, Guyton released her debut album, Remember Her Name, for which she is up for the Best Country Album award at the 2022 Grammys in April. She has also been nominated for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance for the album's eponymous single.

The nominations on Guyton's resumé also include two Academy of Country Music Awards and a Country Music Association Award.

She will be joined at SoFi Stadium by fellow Grammy-nominated performers Jhené Aiko, who will sing “America the Beautfiul”, and Mary Mary, a Gospel duo who will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

The Super Bowl LVI halftime show will feature Mary J Blige, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.


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