Mickey Guyton gives a pair of powerful televised performances, Asleep at the Wheel announce an ACL retrospective, and Tyller Gummersall rides for MusiCares.
Mickey Guyton wowed television audiences with heartstrings-tugging piano-based performances of two new songs over the last week that were so powerful they felt like the arrival of a star, never mind that the 37-year-old singer inked her first record deal in 2011 and first landed on the Billboard charts in 2014. More important, those songs fearlessly address injustices — in country music, in America, in the world — head-on, forcing the listener to address their own culpability in allowing those wrongs to persist.
At the 2020 ACM Awards September 16 at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Guyton belted out a dynamic, emotional solo rendition of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her,” accompanied only by Keith Urban on piano.
When I say fearless, I am not merely referring to a willingness to belt out a high note at full volume — though she’s got an amazing voice and vocal skills to spare. Lyrically, the song doesn’t hold anything back, referring to childhood sexual assault in the first verse and going on to address sexism in the world of country music and American life. “Do you just let her pretend that she could be the president? Would it help us get there any faster?” she sings. “Do you let her think the deck’s not stacked, and gay or straight or white or black, you just dream and anything can happen?”
The performance was the first by a solo black woman in the 55-year history of the awards.
Guyton didn’t let the momentum die, nor did she repeat herself. Monday on Today With Hoda & Jenna, she followed it up with the equally bold “Black Like Me,” with its admonishment to the naive and willfully ignorant: “If you think we live in the land of the free, you should try being black like me.”
Both songs are off Bridges, the EP Guyton released on September 11, which you can download or listen to here.
October 31 will bring a treat to fans of Texas music when ACL Presents: 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel premieres on the groundbreaking public television music series. The band and Austin City Limits go way back, beginning with the program’s first regular episode in 1975 and running through recent Asleep at the Wheel collaborations with Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Sturgill Simpson for a total of 11 appearances. The setlist will range from 1976 performances of “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read to “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love from 2015 and includes a few classic tunes performed multiple times over that span, like “Take Me Back to Tulsa” featuring the Avett Brothers and Vince Gill and played in 1996, 2015, 1978, and 1976.
The classic country and Western swing band, inducted into the ACL Hall of Fame in 2015 https://acltv.com/hall-of-fame/inductee-details/?name=asleep-at-the-wheel, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Visit the ACL show website for more information, and check your local listings for broadcast details or stream it here.
Tyller Gummersall, Singing Cowboy
“I was up on the mountain here in Colorado with my family and had the thought, ‘I wonder if this horse will let me play and sing while riding around?’ And he did!” writes Tyller Gummersall about a music video he put together as a fundraiser for the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief fund. Gummersall even throws in a nice guitar solo too. Enjoy the video of “Lucky Guy” below.