Mickey Guyton's powerful Wednesday night (Sept. 16) delivery of "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?" was the first time a Black female artist has ever given a solo performance at the ACM Awards. But after her set, as she reflected on the experience in a virtual press room, the singer pointed out that she herself was following in inspirational footsteps.

"That whole phrase, 'You see it, you can be it,' really rings true," Guyton muses. "The only reason why I felt I could pursue country music was when I saw another woman named Rissi Palmer."

Palmer debuted in 2007 with "Country Girl," the first single from a Black woman to crack the country charts since Dona Mason did so two decades earlier. She was the artist who made Guyton realize that it was possible for Black women to find success in the genre, and now Guyton's hoping to pay that inspiration forward for a new generation of rising artists.

"So me standing on that stage, representing women of color -- period -- it tells them they can sing whatever they want to sing. It doesn't have to be R&B," she continues. "If they want to sing country music, they can."

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It's been a long climb for Guyton in the country music: She's worked for years to break through into the mainstream, and having the opportunity to perform at the ACMs, with Keith Urban accompanying her on piano, was overwhelming -- especially, she jokes, during her pregnancy, a time when emotions are already high.

"I'm pregnant and hormonal, so I've been trying not to cry this whole time," she adds with a laugh. "But it really does mean so much to me to be embraced by this community."

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