Mickey Guyton and Black Pumas Bring Pure Energy With ‘CMT Crossroads’
After making headlines with their captivating performance of “Colors” at the 2022 CMT Music Awards — a performance that left audiences hungry for more from the two acts — they joined forces for an episode of Crossroads that sees them lending their voices to one another’s hits, including Guyton’s Grammy nominated “Black Like Me” and another memorable performance of the Black Pumas’ “Colors.”
During the Crossroads taping in April, Guyton opened the show with a vulnerable admission.
“Two years ago, this was not even a possibility for me,” she told the crowd of family, friends and fans at the Factory at Franklin just outside of Nashville, revealing that she couldn’t pay rent at the time.
Flash forward to the present, and Guyton is now one of the most sought-after artists in country music, earning four Grammy nominations, performing the National Anthem at the 2021 Super Bowl, co-hosting the ACM Awards with Keith Urban among several other accolades. This episode is another feather in that impressive cap, with the country star professing that she and her family are avid fans of the psychedelic soul duo of Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada.
The show is anchored by the personal moments weaved throughout, like Guyton opening up about her husband Grant Savoy’s health issues and how seeing the fear in someone she considers “superhuman” made her feel “helpless.”
“I knew I couldn’t take the pain away, but I could walk through it,” she observed, leading into the compassionate “Lay It on Me.” Guyton hits a high note in this performance that echoed throughout the venue in a way that will leave you awestruck and wondering how her voice is that powerful.
She continues to build on the emotion with “Black Like Me.” Since the song’s release in June 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, Guyton has been deeply honest about her experience as a Black woman in country music and the racism she’s experienced. She’s turned her pain into the moving, anthemic number that she introduced by sharing how she tried so hard to fit when she moved to Nashville, almost walking away from country music and Music City until her husband encouraged her to tell her own story.
“We have all felt like we haven’t belonged,” Guyton professed on the stage before the intimate crowd, letting her stirring voice and lyrics to match take the lead. Burton also adopted the song as his own, singing the lyrics born from Guyton’s memories of being told she was “different” by children on the playground and her hard-working father with such conviction that it was clear that Guyton was moved by his delivery.
Guyton continued to share a piece of her heart with the debut of “I Still Pray” which she co-wrote with Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard. Admitting that she originally thought the hitmaker was a “frat boy,” party type, she soon realized when they got in the writing room that he was a “genuine” person with a lot to say, and the two put their heads together to write a song centered around peace, love and understanding. Hubbard was in the audience with his wife Hayley and their 4-year-old daughter Olivia as Guyton and Burton sang the ballad about relying on a higher power when feeling alone or misunderstood.
As they transitioned into the Black Pumas’ catalogue, the striking moments continued, from opening the set with a tender-hearted cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” that had the generations of people in the audience singing along, to Guyton hilariously describing the Black Pumas as “the kind of music you want to run naked in a field to.” They proved her point with the smooth and suave “Oct 33” that cast an air of mystery and cool vibes over the space that accentuated the soulful nature of their voices while honoring the Black Pumas’ mission of carrying one’s inhibitions away through their music and inviting “your souls to be refined.”
One of the best performances of the night is pure “Fire,” which Burton shared was the first song they recorded as a duo and were so “enchanted” by the process that they officially decided to start a band. Watching multiple takes of the electrifying, lovelorn number added a jolt of energy to the show that had Guyton’s earth-shattering vocals on repeat. The two singers were clearly enraptured by the song, as Burton hit an Aretha Franklin-like high note that was followed by a split and a spin move that knocked his hat off, while Guyton was so into it at one point that her earrings came flying out.
“Live music in Nashville with CMT, it feels good,” Burton remarked during the interlude.
Throughout the 90-minute set, Guyton demonstrated that she has an undeniable confidence pouring out of her that radiated into the crowd and onscreen, with Burton proving to be an equally mesmerizing performer. When they closed out the show with a reprise of “Colors,” holding a note together at the end that could shatter glass, Guyton and Black Pumas prove that they are voices worth listening to.
CMT Crossroads premiered on Wednesday (June 15) at 10PM ET.
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