When country stars and hosts Keith Urban and Mickey Guyton took the stage for their opening monologue at the American Country Music Awards on April 18, they made sure to thank the people who helped the world through the coronavirus pandemic: healthcare workers.
"We've all been through so much, but I'm proud to say we're all on our way back," Keith, who recently collaborated with Taylor Swift on her re-recorded country album Fearless (Taylor's Version), said while on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. "And we've done it with a lot of fight and a lot of help."
Mickey then gestured towards the masked, vaccinated health care workers who the ACMs invited to join the audience.
"My sister is a nurse and she has told me so much of what you guys have had to deal with," Mickey explained. "You guys are our army right now and this would not be possible without you. So thank you all so, so, much."
"I think the topic of inclusivity being addressed is by the award show itself," the artist, who recently welcomed her first child with husband Grant Savoy, explained. "I'm part of the ACM Diversity Task Force….We started this in 2019, and they have been relentlessly working on diversifying the awards in front of the camera and behind the scenes. And that is showing up on the awards. And I'm just so excited to be a part of that change."
The singer-songwriter also told E! News why she, the first Black woman signed to UMG's Capitol Records Nashville, was is compelled to make a difference in country music.
"There's so many people: women, Black women, indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, that have a unique story that's important to be heard and when you're not giving people that platform, that is just flat out wrong in my personal opinion," she explained. "That's why representation matters, because there's a little 7 year old girl out there that looks like me that has these dreams and when she doesn't see herself, she doesn't get to pursue that and she doesn't get to live a life that could have been destined for her."