The “Black Like Me” singer took the stage to accept the honor and as tears filled her eyes, she emotionally shared:
“Y’all look at God. When the Lord closes a door somewhere, he opens a window. And in my case, he shattered a whole glass ceiling. Three years ago this was not even a possibility for me and I had completely given up on myself and my dream to sing a genre of music that I held so close to my heart. And I had a conversation with my husband, and he told me to live and to be authentically me, unapologetically, and write from my experience as a black woman living in America, and it changed my life and I made it my life’s purpose to show that country music really is everyone’s music.”
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She went on to say:
“Take a moment and step outside of yourselves, you will see and hear some of the most beautiful music that you will ever hear from so many amazing people. So, to that little seven-year-old black girl at home, that indigenous boy, that LGBTQ+ teen, and that Latino boy or girl and anyone marginalized or unseen and yes, even the haters on social media, this is for you. I am here for you. I am my sister’s keeper and thank you, Nashville, for this honor. I am blown away and so grateful so many of you guys put me on a platform when you had no incentive to do so and I will do the same moving forward for other up and coming artists. Thank you, Mom and Dad, thank you. I love my son, Thank you so much.”
Prior to accepting the trophy, Guyton shared the stage with Yola.
The pair joined together for the first time ever for a memorable performance of Guyton’s “Remember Her Name.”
The song is included as the title track of Guyton’s recently released debut album.
Guyton co-wrote the track alongside Parker Welling, Black Hubbard and Jarrod Ingram.
“‘Remember Her Name’ is a song for anyone who has ever felt less than, forgotten or up against impossible obstacles,” Guyton previously shared. “I hope this song is a reminder of the importance of self-worth and the power of persistence and perseverance.”
Guyton made history as the first Black female solo artist to earn a GRAMMY nomination in a country category (Best Country Solo Performance) with her breakout release, “Black Like Me.” She performed the song during the GRAMMY Awards in mid-March.
In April, Guyton co-hosted the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS along with Keith Urban.
The current CMA New Artist of the Year nominee recently released her debut album, Remember Her Name.
2021 CMT Artists of the Year special aired live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
The show honored Randy Travis with the highly-coveted Artist of a Lifetime title, Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs as the 2021 Artists of the Year and Guyton with the Breakout Artist of the Year honor.
The 90-minute special, which aired on Wednesday, October 13 at 9/8c, also featured performances by Combs, Barrett and more.
Additionally, the ceremony included several star-studded collaborations and tributes, including Boyz II Men with Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix honoring Stapleton, Brown paying homage to Travis, and Mickey Guyton performing “Remember Her Name” with Yola. Ballerini joined forces with the Jonas Brothers for a cover of a Joe Cocker hit.
Making his award show debut, Walker Hayes closed out the show with a performance of “Fancy Like.”
Eric Church, Lady A, Nelly, Connie Britton, Michael W. Smith, Copeland, Morgan Evans and CMT’s Cody Alan made special appearances as presenters throughout the evening as well.