The “Black Like Me” singer, 38, started dreaming about becoming a country artist after she saw LeAnn Rimes perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a Texas Rangers baseball game. Guyton was 9 at the time, while the Masked Singer winner, now 39, was 10.
“Seeing someone who was young like me sound like a grown woman — I was like, ‘I can do that!’” the Texas native told The New Yorker in June 2021. “And I really could.”
After Guyton announced her Super Bowl gig via Instagram earlier this month, her childhood inspiration chimed in to offer her congratulations. “So freaking proud of YOU,” Rimes commented on the post.
The Grammy nominee, for her part, recalled “freaking out” when she heard that she’d be singing at the NFL championship. “I think that everybody would love to perform at the Super Bowl at some point or another,” she told Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday, February 8. “I just never thought it was a possibility for me. I always just enjoyed watching the national anthem. I sang the national anthem at my high school at every basketball game that we had.”
Though Guyton is now earning tons of critical acclaim, it took her nearly a decade to get her debut album released. In addition to facing racism and sexism in the country music industry, the “Remember Her Name” singer said she initially tried too hard to be something she wasn’t.
“I started looking back at these pictures and videos and I was trying to be this girl next door that everyone could relate to, that everyone could feel safe and comfortable around,” she told CNN in December 2020. “I was hiding a side of myself in plain sight.”
In June 2020, Guyton released “Black Like Me,” the song that finally helped her break through to a wider audience. The single debuted amid widespread protests over the murder of George Floyd after its original release date was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s tears of joy, tears of sadness,” the “Heaven Down Here” singer told Rolling Stone of the song’s success at the time. “There’s a guilt that I’m feeling. I keep thinking, ‘I don’t deserve this.’ There’s also guilt when I see the pain other people are feeling as their eyes open and see the oppression that I’ve experienced, having to see that pain in them as I’m talking about it. It’s all so heavy.”
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