Just about everyone has heard about singer/songwriter powerhouse Taylor Swift – but believe it or not, she did come from humble beginnings. Taylor Allison Swift was born December 13, 1989, in West Reading, Pennsylvania to a homemaker mother and a stockbroker father. After moving to Nashville, Tennessee, Swift started becoming interested in the performing arts.
At the age of 9, she performed in her first play at the Berks Youth Theater Academy production musical theater.
Once her parents realized that she’d showed interest in the performing arts, her mother began driving her to New York City for acting and vocal lessons. Taylor Swift began to gravitate towards country music and cited that Shania Twain’s songs influenced her decision to get into singing. By the age of 12, her parents found a local repairman Ronnie Cremer who happened to also be a local musician to teach her how to play the guitar.
From there, there was no stopping Taylor Swift. By the time she was 14 years old, she signed her first record deal with Sony/ATV.
While living in Nashville, Taylor Swift began trying to get noticed by the recording industry. Becoming friends with Liz Rose and the Warren Brothers she began her songwriting sessions every afternoon after school with them. Swift stated that during this time, the songwriting process was one of the easiest she’d experienced throughout her career. Swift stated that while everyone else wrote the content of the songs, she would just come in and edit what was already written.
Breaking into the Industry
In 2005, Swift was playing music at an industry showcase when she was eventually discovered by Scott Borchetta who was a record executive for DreamWorks. He thought at the time that Swift could be a breakout star on his independent label Big Machine Records. Shortly after meeting Borchetta immediately signed Swift as one of the label’s first signings.
As a result, Swift’s father spent $120,000 on a three percent stake in the label. Shortly after signing, Swift began work on her first album. In a show of solidarity, Swift refused to leave the production team that helped her get off the ground. Instead, she wanted to take them to the top with her. Persuading Big Machine Records to hire her demo producer Nathan Chapman, the two wrote a bunch of hit songs that caused the star to break out.
Borchetta did feel the heat however after signing Swift to Big Machine Records because at the time she was only 16. However, after dropping her hit “Tim McGraw,” and ” “Teardrops on My Guitar”, “Our Song”, “Picture to Burn” and “Should’ve Said No,” she became the youngest person to hit number one on the charts and people started to take the powerhouse seriously.
After winning multiple awards including the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award, for the Best New Artist and was nominated for the 50th Grammy Awards award for Best New Artist for her first album “Taylor Swift”, she began work on new music shortly after.
Taylor Swift’s second stupid album, Fearless, was released on November 11, 2008, to immediate success. Her first single “Love Story” peaked at number four on Billboard and number one in places like Australia. But Taylor Swift’s largest and earliest flirtation with international celebrity would come at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Kanye West’s interruption of her 2009 speech would become one of the hottest memes overnight and provide Swift with a level of celebrity that reached well beyond her established fanbase. Love her or hate her, Taylor’s name was on the lips of every celebrity gossip reporter. Taylor Swift also gained immediate icon status after Kanye West interrupted her 2009 speech at the MTV Video Music Awards for her “You Belong with Me” music video and proclaiming that Beyonce should’ve won instead for her video “Single Ladies.”
Swift definitely did have some issues with Kanye interrupting her speech and felt as if her time had been violated. It has been reported that Beyonce and Taylor met backstage and both needed to be consoled from being so upset.
She even showed clips of the incident behind the scenes while she played on tour that year during her performance for the song “Innocent.” While she sang the lyrics, “Who you are is not what you did. You’re still an innocent,” she implied that she was singing to him directly. Swift told New York Magazine, “I think a lot of people expected me to write a song about him, But for me, it was important to write a song to him.”
Taylor Swift won the Album of the Year and Best Country Album at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. Taylor Swift still holds the title of being the youngest artist to ever win that prestigious award. During the award ceremony, Swift even took to the stage and performed “You Belong With Me” and “Rhiannon” with Fleetwood Mac lead Stevie Nicks.
This particular performance however marked the beginning of Swift receiving negative backlash due to the fact that the performance was not received well by critics. Later that year, Swift had a high profile relationship with Taylor Lautner and had a guest appearance on CBS’s Crime Scene Investigation.
On the show, she got to show her fans a different Swift than they were used to in that she got to play a rebellious teenager. The artist also got to perform and star on Saturday Night Live. Critics claimed that Taylor Swift’s performance and opening monologue were one of the best performances of that year.
In 2010, Swift released her third album entitled Speak Now. This album received immediate acclaim by entering the charts at number 3 that year. Swift was also the first artist after Mariah Carey to have debuted multiple tracks in the process of releasing an album.
That same year, Swift landed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being an artist to have the fastest-selling digital download to a single track. She also dated actor Jack Jake Gyllenhaal briefly that year in yet another high profile romance that was heavily reported on through the tabloids.
The world tour that supported that album began in February of 2011 and ran through March 2012. This world tour solidified Swift as a tour de force because it grossed $123 million dollars. Later that year, Swift released her first live album from the same tour that saw huge, commercial success. She also won many awards and critical acclaim for both the live and studio album.
Switching to Pop
In 2012 her album Red was released where she finally got to dive into the pop world. Most artists get a lot of blowback when they decide to switch things up as she did. But switching genres seemed to work in Swift’s benefit.
The album had dub-step, pop, and heartland rock influences in addition, and each single showcased charted at the top almost instantaneously. The artist appeared in the Guinness Book of World records that year for having it debut number 1 on the charts and to have two million dollar selling albums consecutively.
After seeing all that success, Swift decided that it was time to change things up a bit and make a movie. Relocating to New York City benefited Taylor Swift in many ways.
She found inspiration from the world around her and began the songwriting process for her next release that would shake up the world around her. Deciding to write a pop album came as a huge shock to many of her lifelong fans but they jumped on the bandwagon and her next release, 1989 saw huge commercial success.
Selling 1.28 million copies worldwide, the singer became an even bigger star than ever before. That year’s “Bad Blood” single was reportedly about her feud with Katy Perry in which stated in a Rolling Stone interview was about Perry stealing her backup dancers.
That year, Swift also popularized the girl gang group and famously dated actor Tom Hiddleston. She also was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year a second time. Her 1989 world tour made over $250 million dollars. Sweeping the grammy’s that year with a couple of awards also was expected.
Taylor Goes to Court
Taylor Swift had a traumatic experience in 2014 that lead her to the courtroom. The artist successfully sued a morning radio host named David Mueller who groped her during a meet and greet and she didn’t get a chance to have justice until 2017.
After Swift informed Mueller’s bosses that he groped her and she intended to sue he got fired from his job. The firing led to Mueller suing Swift for defamation and she countersued and won. Her countersuit was only for a dollar.
Leaving Big Machine
Reputation was the last album released under Big Machine Records in order for her to fulfill her 12-year contract.
The album’s first single “Look What You Made Me Do” was about another feud she had with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. During the recording of Kanye West’s hit song “Famous” West asked the star for her permission to use her name, and according to Kardashian, West records all interactions in the studio for recording.
The phone call conversation recording between West and Swift was released on Kardashian’s Snapchat after she spoke about it on Keeping Up With Kardashians. That year Swift also had a Netflix documentary supporting her Reputation World Tour.
After fulfilling her contract, Swift signed to Universal Music Group and started working on another album. During that time Scooter Braun bought Big Machine Records and she and Brawn began to fight over the rights to her music.
Swift stated that she had been trying to purchase the rights to her own master recordings for years and refused to go down without a bit of a legal battle. In November of 2019 Swift said that Braun didn’t allow her to perform any of her old songs. Not being able to perform her own songs is not stopping the artist from trying to obtain the rights to her old work. Instead of backing down, she plans on recording her old songs in order to have the rights to them.
In 2019, Swift released her first album under Universal Music Group called Lover. While the album was not a huge commercial success like the others, it did chart at number 100 that year.
Swift also had a part in the remake of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Cats” where she was painted like a cat and sensually performed “Beautiful Ghosts.” On July 24, 2020, Taylor Swift released her most recent album called Folklore. This album’s release was announced and released within 24 hours and was written while the artist was in complete isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The album received positive praise from critics and has gotten universal acclaim. Selling 2 million copies in the first week, fans got to see Swift transition into folk music. Not only is Swift a musical genius but she has lent her image to very popular products. For example, she signed a deal with Verizon Wireless and was the face of their campaign.
Taylor Swift credits quite a few artists as her biggest influences that transition into some of her most popular songs. For example, Swift claims that Shania Twain and Stevie Nicks are some of her biggest musical influences. Swift even states that she tried to mimic Twain’s style during the recording of her first few albums.
Her pop influences also include Hanson and Britney Spears. Swift even says that she is influenced by the emo music movement and listens to artists like Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy, and Jimmy Eat World.
One of the few artists that use elements of her personal life in her music, Swift has seen quite a bit of success. Her fans feel as if they have not only seen her grow but they have grown up together. It has been reported that Swift is so close with her fans that during recordings of her albums she will fly fans in to listen.
She has had private listening parties at undisclosed locations that were only open to fans. She also is generous with her time and money and it has been reported that the artist has even sent money to those fans in need. Many critics have claimed that Swift’s songwriting process is unique and brilliant. The Guardian stated her first two albums sound like “with a kind of wistful, sepia-toned nostalgia”