‘All Black folks don’t look alike’

Super Bowl LVI took place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Feb. 13, with a pre-show featuring a stately performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (a hymn widely considered to be the “Black national anthem”) by Grammy-winning gospel duo Mary Mary, a lilting rendition of “America the Beautiful ” by critically acclaimed alternative/soul singer-songwriter, six-time Grammy nominee, and LA native Jhené Aiko, and the national anthem sung by breakout country star Mickey Guyton.

Earlier this week, Guyton had told the New York Post, “It’s Black History Month, and a Black country singer gets to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. wow. This is a huge moment for me. It’s a huge moment for Black people. And I want to represent that in the best possible way that I can.”

However, the huge moment was marred by an unfortunate flub, when Guyton was captioned incorrectly, identifying her as another woman of color, Aiko — and fans on Twitter immediately called out NBC for the egregious error.

Guyton is now at the peak of her career — last year, she became the first Black female artist to perform at the Academy of Country Music Awards, the first Black woman to host the ACM Awards ceremony, and the first Black female solo artist to be nominated in the Grammys’ country category. But the four-time Grammy nominee — whose debut album is, ironically, titled Remember Her Name — battled racism in the industry for 10 years to get to this point. In fact, there was a time not long ago when Guyton, now age 38, considered giving up her music dream entirely.

“It’s been a long time coming. Like, the fact that I’m here is a miracle,” Guyton told Xdigitalnews Entertainment last year. “Like in 2019, I was ready to stop it all. Really, 100 percent, sometimes on a daily, I was like, ‘Why did I choose to do this? Like, this makes no sense.’ I remember crying to my husband, mad at him because he would never let me quit. † And he kept saying, ‘Because you need to be here. If you’re not out there, then for every Black girl that wants to sing country music, that dream has gone if you’re not there.’ Then I was like, ‘OK, fine.’ And I’m so glad I didn’t stop.”

Watch Mickey Guyton’s Xdigitalnews Entertainment interview:

Even if Guyton’s long-time-coming Super Bowl moment was tainted by the NFL’s embarrassing captioning mix-up, her performance was, overall, a triumph. Introduced as having the “voice of an angel,” wearing a patriotic royal blue gown, and backed by a white-clad choir, she belted a stunning, gospel-tinged rendition of the national anthem, and appeared to be choked-up after her climactic final note, as she let it sink in that she’d just performed for one of the largest televised audiences in the world. Hopefully new fans, watching Guyton for the first time on Super Bowl Sunday, will remember her name.

“I set my intentions with singing the national anthem. I was like, ‘OK, togetherness is what I really want.’ So, I felt the way that people would feel togetherness is if I had a choir, with people that I believe represent America,” Guyton told the Post proudly this week. “And, you know, I have everybody from my Black queen to a redneck cowboy to a girl that has one leg in this choir. And that’s the America that I’m proud of — us all standing together. We all belong.”

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