Remember Her Name

Remember Her Name

It’s not uncommon for debut artists to navigate a circuitous route to releasing their first full-length project, but few have traversed paths as long and arduous as Mickey Guyton’s road to Remember Her Name. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter first signed a record deal in 2011 and, 10 years later, is finally releasing her debut album. “This whole album really is my life, and my learning self-acceptance, over the last 10 years,” Guyton tells Apple Music. “The ups, the downs, the back and forth, the impostor syndrome that we all tend to get because of the downs—all of that is wrapped up in one album.” Remember Her Name opens with the powerful title track, which was inspired both by the murder of Breonna Taylor and by Guyton’s own reclamation of the sense of self that 10 years in the music industry mercilessly eroded. Empowerment is a recurring theme throughout the LP, but Guyton rejects schmaltzy clichés in favor of nuanced, often painfully personal stories of working through internalized racism (“Love My Hair,” “Black Like Me”), embracing the inherently imperfect nature of a marriage (“Lay It on Me”), and fighting for space in a white-dominated industry (a particularly moving rerecording of her 2015 track “Better Than You Left Me”). “I hope people walk away from the album feeling seen,” Guyton adds. “I tried to put my life on display in an honest way, showing the good and the bad. And I hope people can hear that in that album and find hope within their own lives from it.” Below, Guyton walks us through several key tracks on Remember Her Name. “Remember Her Name” “I wrote ‘Remember Her Name’ in the pandemic. And I was actually watching what happened with Breonna Taylor. Whenever someone is wrongly murdered, a lot of people say, ‘Say their name. Remember their name.’ So, I was inspired by that. And then, as I was writing the song, it turned into my own story as an artist. When I first started music, I had so much excitement and confidence in myself, and then life happened and I lost every ounce of confidence that I ever had. No matter what life did to you, that person, that fire is still in you, and you have to find that person. And the reason why I called it ‘Remember Her Name’ for the album was because it took me so long to get to this point of releasing my first body of work, ever.” “All American” “I also wrote ‘All American’ in the pandemic while very, very pregnant. And the funny story about that is, when I tried to record the song, if I ate, I couldn’t sing because I had no room left. My baby was taking over. So, I would have to come back another day when I didn’t have any food in my stomach to be able to record it. I wanted to write a song showing that our differences make America great. I think so many people have forgotten that. And in this genre—this predominantly white genre—I wanted to sing a song that was true to me and all the different parts of America, whether it’s the Texas sky or the New York City lights, whether it’s James Brown or James Dean or Daisy Dukes and dookie braids. All of that is American.” “Love My Hair” “I wrote that song after I watched this video on YouTube of this little Black girl with braids crying to her mother because she got sent home from school because they said her hair was distracting. I couldn’t even finish the video because it took me back to my own struggles, as a little girl, with self-love and being in predominantly white spaces in school and just being different. I had those experiences and it’s taken me a long time to get over that and to learn self-acceptance. And this song was a step in that direction.” “Lay It on Me” “My husband and I have been together for a long time, almost 11 years. At one point in time, he was really, really sick and he almost died. I just remember, at the time, I was broke and I was working on this album; I didn’t exactly know what I was doing. He wouldn’t let me quit. Even when I wanted to just give up my apartment in Nashville and move to LA, he wouldn’t allow it. And he was giving everything so that I could pursue this dream. It’s watching someone that I love struggle and me wanting to take the load off them for a second.” “Black Like Me” “A lot of these songs I’d written two, three years ago. And ‘Black Like Me’ was kind of the one that helped me focus on what, exactly, I was trying to say in this album. I was chasing after acceptance, and chasing after acceptance in a predominantly white genre. And that was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I took it on the chin and had to take a minute and look at myself. As I was looking at myself, I was looking at everything that I was doing in this industry and trying to just get a chance. And it broke me a little bit. ‘Black Like Me’ was that moment of me being like, ‘Hey, it’s hard. It’s really hard for Black people.’ Some have it easier than others, and I’m definitely on the easier side of the spectrum. But there’s a lot of people that it is not easy for, and I wanted to sing about that.” “Better Than You Left Me” (Fly Higher Version) “I don’t know what came over me, but I knew that the anniversary of that song was coming up and I was like, ‘I need to do an updated version.’ It has a totally different meaning now, and I needed to put that on the album. When I first wrote the song, I wrote it about an ex that I was so brokenhearted over and that I’d moved on from. But that was forever ago, and that guy is not even a thought in my head anymore; he doesn't matter to me, but the song does. I pulled myself out of that with the help of a small group of people. I wanted to include that because I’m just so different and I am better than the town left me. I’m stronger. I love deeper. I fly higher. I’m all of those things.”

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