Following Mickey Guyton’s stirring performance of “Black Like Me” during Sunday’s Grammy Awards, her label EMI Nashville has partnered with fellow Universal Music Group label Republic Records to promote the song to adult contemporary stations. The new version is dubbed “Black Like Me (Our Voices).”
“We believe in the power of ‘Black Like Me’ and after speaking with Republic, they too felt there was a bigger audience for this song,” Universal Music Group Nashville president Cindy Mabe tells Billboard. “They serviced the song to multi-formats Monday and are currently working it to AC radio.”
While “Black Like Me,” which EMI Nashville released in June during the protests following the death of George Floyd, has only received a few spins so far from a handful of stations, “I think ‘Black Like Me’ will do well with our listeners and they’ll certainly be able to relate,” John Anthony, PD at AC outlet WJKK, Jackson, Miss., tells Billboard.
“Black Like Me” saw immediate sales gains following Guyton’s appearance, selling 1,600 copies after the Grammys on Sunday, according to MRC Data. That signified a staggering 13,225% increase from March 13 and was enough to land Guyton among the artists seeing the biggest sales gains immediately following the telecast.
The song received a nod for best country solo performance, making Guyton the first Black woman to be nominated in that Grammy category.
Universal Music Group Nashville deployed a similar tactic in 2019 after Kacey Musgraves won four Grammys, including the coveted album of the year prize for Golden Hour. The next morning, UMGN’s MCA Nashville serviced “Rainbow” to Country, AC, Hot AC and Triple A radio.
“Black Like Me” has not appeared on any of Billboard’s country charts since its release nine months ago, and airplay for Black women remains staggeringly low. According to a study released last week titled Redlining in Country Music: Representation in the Country Music Industry (2000-2020), only 2.7% of country radio airplay over the past two decades was for songs performed by women of color.
Guyton told Billboard recently that she has “made peace” with the fact that country radio may never play her. (Her song “Better Than You Left Me” peaked at No. 34 on Hot Country Songs in 2015). “A white friend of mine signed to a major label was told by a radio promo person that country radio will not play Black people. So I realized I’m not going to get on any kind of country station,” she said. “And I’m certainly not going to do that by falling in line and shutting up and singing. I’ve made peace with that. I may not ever have some massive career, but I’m going to use the influence I have to open those doors for the future generation. And for young Black and Brown girls who have dreams that people will never consider, I’ll consider them. I’ll see them. And I will use the connections that I have to help them.”