Taylor Swift is an internationally famous award-winning country pop singer-songwriter.
Nickname(s): Swifty, T-Swizzle, Tay
Born: December 13, 1989
Place of Birth: Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
Parents: Scott Kingsley Swift, Andrea Swift (née Finlay)
Siblings: Austin Swift
Awards: Seven Grammy Awards, fifteen American Music Awards, eleven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards, and twelve Billboard Music Awards. Second person to win Country Music Association's Pinnacle Award. Nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. Honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Taylor Swift is just your average girl that took the music industry by storm. She was born on December 13, 1989 to Scott Kingsley Swift and Andrea Swift. Taylor’s family is quite well to do; her father is a Merrill Lynch financial adviser, while her mother was a mutual fund marketing executive until she gave it up to become a stay-at-home mom.
The girl next-door
Taylor spent her childhood growing up on a Christmas tree farm in the Cumru Township, Pennsylvania. There she helped out by removing locust nests from the Christmas trees before they were sold. Meanwhile, she attended preschool and kindergarten at the Alvernia Montessori School, and later transferred to the Wyndcroft School, a co-ed private school.
The Swift family often summered at their waterfront vacation home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. This is where Taylor claims that most of her childhood memories were formed. The family also owned a number of Quarter horses and a Shetland pony, so it was only natural that Taylor would develop a hobby for English horse riding. As the story goes, Taylor’s mother first put her in a saddle when she was just nine months old. So it was expected that Taylor would grow up to be a fine rider and even go on to compete in horse shows.
At the age of nine, Taylor’s family shifted to a rented house in the suburban Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Here she studied at West Reading Elementary Center and Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School. Junior high school was a particularly difficult time for Taylor as she was often bullied at school. Taylor attributes the main reason for the bulling to her love of country music, which most of the other children did not get. Still, Taylor credits this time in her life as inspiring her to first write songs.
Need to become an artist
While Taylor’s love of country music is well documented, she first became interested in music, well musical theatre to be precise, at the age of nine. She began performing in productions for the Berks Youth Theatre Academy. She also began to regularly travel to Broadway for vocal and acting lessons. Taylor eventually turned her attention to country music, drawing inspiration from the like of Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks, Carly Simon, and the Dixie Chicks. On the weekends, she started performing at local festivals, fairs, coffeehouses, karaoke contests, garden clubs, Boy Scout meetings and sporting events. She even won a local talent competition by singing a rendition of LeAnn Rimes's "Big Deal". This earned her the opportunity to appear as the opening act for Charlie Daniels at a Strausstown amphitheater.
Eventually, Taylor decided that she needed to go to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a music career. This was inspired by a Behind the Music episode about Faith Hill. So, one summer she went with her mom to Nashville and started visiting record labels to leave a demo CD with karaoke covers of Dolly Parton and Dixie Chicks. She was 11 at the time. However, Taylor was rejected. That’s when she realized that "everyone in that town wanted to do what I wanted to do. So, I kept thinking to myself, I need to figure out a way to be different."
Road to Stardom
At the age of 12, a computer repairman taught her how to play three chords on a guitar. This inspired her to write her first song “Lucky You”. She was previously an award-wining poet, but now she realized that perhaps song writing was her ticket to fame.
In 2003, the young singer-songwriter came under the mentorship of New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow. Under his tutelage, Taylor modelled for Abercrombie and Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included in a Maybelline Cosmetics compilation CD and took meetings with major record labels. She eventually won an artist development deal from RCA Records when she was in eighth grade.
The deal required Taylor to often travel to Nashville, which is why, when she was fourteen, her father sought an internal transfer to Merrill Lynch’s Nashville office and moved the family to Hendersonville, Tennessee. However, the parents told young Taylor that they moved because they like the area, and that the pressure wasn’t on her.
Start of an Amazing Career
At RCA Records, Taylor met Liz Rose, who would co-write a number of Taylor’s future songs. Taylor also had writing sessions with experienced songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally and The Warren Brothers. While, RCA Records helped Taylor grow and develop her footing in the music industry, the two eventually split ways. Taylor also parted ways with Dan Dymtrow. The main reason for the split was that they wanted Taylor to wait until she turned eighteen to release an album. They also wanted her to first sing other song-writer’s works before releasing her own stuff. However, Taylor felt that she was ready to release her own stuff and now, rather than waiting for a couple more years.
In 2005, Taylor was signed on by Big Machine Records. The independent record label was started by Scott Borchetta, a DreamWorks Records executive in collaboration with Keith Urban. However, Keith Urban withdrew his affiliation in 2006. Taylor was one of the first artists to be signed on by the label, which went on to include artists like The Cadillac Three, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Reba McEntire. Taylor’s father believed in her talent so much that he went on to buy a 3% stake in Big Machine Records.
On the Top
Immediately after she was signed, she started working on her self-titled debut album. Taylor asked Big Machine to hire her demo producer Nathan Chapman to work with her on the debut album. Even though Chapman had never released an album before, Taylor felt that they had great chemistry. On the album, Taylor wrote three songs by herself and the rest with Liz Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall and Angelo Petraglia. The album, Taylor Swift was released on October 24, 2006. The album included the singles, "Tim McGraw", "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No".
The self-titled debut album was eventually followed by three more albums, to bring the total to four full albums before Taylor had even turned 23. Fearless was released on November 11, 2008, followed by Speak Now on October 25, 2010. Fearless included singles such as "Love Story", "White Horse", "You Belong with Me", "Fifteen", and "Fearless". Speak Now included the singles, "Mine", "Back to December", "Mean", "The Story of Us", "Sparks Fly", and "Ours".
Her latest album Red was released on October 22, 2012. This album deviated from the traditional Taylor Swift albums. In Red, Taylor experimented with newer sounds in order to re-invent herself as a more adult musician. Her producer, Chapman encouraged her "to branch out and to test herself in other situations." In the album, Taylor experiments with heartland rock, dubstep and dance-pop. However, the songs are still iconically Taylor. Her fifth album is already in the works.
Taylor has not only been loved and upheld by the public, but her peers in the industry as well. While some do criticize her for writing too many songs about her personal life and relationships, most can’t help but tout her song writing abilities. She has been heralded for the ‘wistful, sepia-toned nostalgia’ that is instilled by her songs, as well as for the themes that are covered in her songs, such as love and romance, parent-child relationships, friendships, alienation, and career ambitions.
For her songs, Taylor has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She has also won seven Grammy Awards, fifteen American Music Awards, eleven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards, and twelve Billboard Music Awards. She has also been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. In 2013, she was the second person and first woman to receive the Country Music Association's Pinnacle Award.
In addition to being an award-winning singer-songwriter, Taylor is also a spokesmodel, actress and philanthropist. In the past, Taylor has worked as a spokesmodel for l.e.i. jeans, CoverGirl, Diet Coke, Keds sneakers, Verizon Wireless' Mobile Music campaign, NHL's Nashville Predators, and Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras. She has performed in a commercial for the Band Hero video game, launched an l.e.i. sundress range at Wal-Mart, as well as designed American Greetings cards and Jakks Pacific dolls. She has also launched three Elizabeth Arden fragrances, Wonderstruck, Wonderstruck Enchanted, and Taylor by Taylor Swift. For Red, she also offered exclusive album promotions through Target, Papa John's and Walgreens.
Taylor has also worked as an actress. Her acting debut was in a 2009 episode of CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, in which she acted as a rebellious teenager. In the same year, she hosted and performed as the musical guest for an episode of Saturday Night Live. In 2010, she acted in the ensemble comedy film Valentine's Day, playing a ditzy Valley girlfriend. In 2012, she voiced the character of Audrey, a tree lover, in the animated film The Lorax. In 2013, she also made a cameo in the sitcom New Girl. In 2014, she will co-star in the film adaptation of The Giver.
Taylor is also known to be quite philanthropic. She has been known to promote children's literacy, support arts education, and donate money to help victims of natural disasters. She is also opposed to LGBT discrimination, and has openly protested against it. She is also involved with a number of charities which provide services to sick children. She has been recognized by the Do Something Awards, The Giving Back Fund and the Tennessee Disaster Service for her philanthropic activities. In 2012, she was awarded The Big Help Award for her "dedication to helping others" and "inspiring others through action". The award was presented by First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also awarded the Ripple of Hope Award by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights for her "dedication to advocacy at such a young age.”