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Mickey Guyton Talks LeAnn Rimes, Dolly Parton and the Importance of Being a Safe Haven

Mickey Guyton: "No matter who they are, but especially for artists of color. I want them to feel like they have a safe space in any genre that they pursue."

Mickey Guyton says if she was ever going to record a tribute album, LeAnn Rimes and Dolly Parton are the artists she would honor.

Guyton performed on CMT Crossroads: LeAnn Rimes and Friends earlier this year and met Parton for the first time during a 2016 CBS This Morning taping.

Guyton talked to People recently about meeting her heroes. They didn't disappoint.

"LeAnn Rimes has become a friend of mine, which is crazy!" Guyton said. "Because she inspired me so long ago. She's been so instrumental in my career."

Guyton first saw Rimes when Guyton was 8 years old, and Rimes was 10 years old. Rimes was yet to be famous, and she sang the National Anthem at a Texas Rangers baseball game, which inspired Guyton to start singing in public.

"What's been so fun about getting to know her is knowing what a kind-hearted, thoughtful, caring, loving, nurturing person that she is," Guyton said. "You didn't get the social media of LeAnn when she was coming up in her career, and I've gotten to just be on the inside of that — and she is guarded because she has gone through a lot. And when you get to know her, she is like a chef's kiss of a human being. Really."

Parton left an equally endearing impression. Guyton's grandmother was a huge Parton fan, and the singer remembers listening to and watching recordings of Parton at her grandmother's house in rural Texas.

"She lived in the country, so she didn't have cable, and all she had were movies, VHS tapes," Guyton said. "When I would go into her room to watch movies, I would look on the back of her door, and there was Dolly Parton; and there was Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers duet VHS tapes. So that's how I fell in love with Dolly Parton was (by) watching those tapes."

Guyton met Parton when CBS This Morning host Gayle King arranged an on-camera surprise visit from the "9 to 5" singer during an interview segment with Guyton on the show. She remembers she played it anything but calm.

"I mean, I screamed, I cried — it's a whole thing," Guyton said. "And she's so little! Her waist is, like, that small. I'm not kidding. She made me feel really good about myself — but my waist!"

Now it's crucial to Guyton to inspire others the way Rimes and Parton inspired her.

"I think everyone, no matter where you're from, just wants to feel like they have a safe space, and I want to create that safe space for artists when they're coming up," she said. "No matter who they are, but especially for artists of color. I want them to feel like they have a safe space in any genre that they pursue. And that's something that has given me a lot of purpose: being that for people."

Now Guyton has teamed with an unlikely collaborator: Tyler Hubbard.

"We developed a really great working relationship," she told CMT. "I never in a million years … and I must admit, I definitely did misjudge him. I will take ownership of that. I see this guy, this like king of bro-country, and I judged him off of that. And when I met him, he and his wife are like humanitarian, kind, loving, family people. I've completely fallen in love with them and their kids. They are just such amazing humans."

Guyton says her first album, "Remember Her Name," turned into "something that needed to be said," but says the next one will be different.

"Now, here this music is about love and enlightenment, which is so important," she says. "I can't wait for everyone to hear it."

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