Taylor Swift - biography

Taylor Swift

Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter and occasional actress. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of fourteen to pursue a career in country music. She signed to the independent label Big Machine Records and became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. The release of Swift's eponymous debut album in 2006 established her as a country music star. "Our Song", her third single, made her the youngest sole writer and singer of a number one song on the country chart. She received a Best New Artist nomination at the 50th Grammy Awards.

Swift's second album, Fearless, was released in late 2008. Buoyed by the chart success of the singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me", Fearless attracted a crossover audience and became the top-selling album of 2009. The record won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Fearless also received Album of the Year plaudits at the American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards, making it the most awarded album in country music history. In 2010, Swift released her third album, Speak Now, which sold over one million copies in its first week. She then embarked on the 111-date Speak Now World Tour, which was attended by over 1.6 million fans and has become one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time. The album's third single, "Mean", won two Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance. Swift is currently recording her fourth studio album, due for release in the fall of 2012.

Swift's work has earned her numerous accolades, including six Grammy Awards, ten AMAs, seven CMAs, six ACMs and 13 BMI Awards. She has sold over 22 million albums and 50 million song downloads worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Swift has endorsement deals with Target, CoverGirl, Sony, Elizabeth Arden, Walmart and American Greetings. As a philanthropist, Swift has placed particular emphasis on arts education, children's literacy and natural disaster relief funds. In addition to her music career, Swift has appeared as an actress in the crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2009), the romantic comedy Valentine's Day (2010) and the animated film The Lorax (2012).

Early life

Taylor Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania.[1] She is the daughter of Scott Swift, a Merrill Lynch financial adviser,[2][3] and Andrea (née Gardner), a homemaker who previously worked as a mutual fund marketing executive.[1][4] Swift was named after singer James Taylor; her mother believed a gender-neutral name would help her forge a successful business career.[5][6] She has a younger brother, Austin, who attends Vanderbilt University.[7] She spent the early years of her life on an eleven-acre Christmas tree farm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and was educated at the fee-paying Wyndcroft School.[8] When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania,[9][10] where she attended West Reading Elementary Center and Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School.[11] Swift spent her summers at her parent's vacation home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey[12] and has described it as the place "where most of my childhood memories were formed".[10]

Swift's first hobby was English horse riding. Her mother first put her in a saddle when she was nine months old and Swift later competed in horse shows.[13][14] Her family owned several Quarter horses and a Shetland pony.[14] At the age of nine, Swift turned her attention to musical theatre and performed in Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions of Grease, Annie, Bye Bye Birdie and The Sound of Music.[15][8] She travelled regularly to Broadway, New York for vocal and acting lessons. However, "after a few years of auditioning in New York and not getting anything”, Swift became interested in country music.[16] She was inspired by LeAnn Rimes's Blue[17] and her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, an opera singer.[8] When she was in fourth grade, Swift won a national poetry contest with a three-page poem, "Monster in My Closet".[18] At the age of eleven, after many attempts,[19] Swift won a local talent competition by singing a rendition of LeAnn Rimes’s “Big Deal”, and was given the opportunity to appear as the opening act for Charlie Daniels at a Strausstown amphitheater.[15] She spent her weekends performing at local festivals, fairs, coffeehouses, karaoke contests, garden clubs and Boy Scout meetings.[20][4] This interest in country music isolated Swift from her middle school peers.[21][22]

After watching a Behind the Music episode about Faith Hill,[23] Swift travelled with her mother to Nashville, Tennessee for spring break to leave a demo of karaoke covers with record labels along Music Row. She received label rejections and 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".[23] Swift began performing the "The Star Spangled Banner" at many sporting events, hoping she would be offered a recording contract. On one occasion, an eleven-year-old Swift high-fived Jay-Z after singing the national anthem at a 76ers game in Philadelphia.[24] At the age of twelve, Swift was shown by a computer repairman how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You".[25][26] She then recorded a second demo of original songs.[15] In 2003, Swift and her parents began working with music manager Dan Dymtrow, after he spotted her singing the national anthem at the US Open.[27] Swift's second demo then caught the attention of RCA Records, who offered the eight-grader an artist development deal. In 2004, Swift modelled for Abercrombie and Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign and had an original song included in a Maybelline Cosmetics compilation CD.[28]

When Swift was fourteen, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch and the family relocated to a lake-shore house in Hendersonville, Tennessee.[1] Swift has said her parents "presented it as a move to a nice community" rather than as her chance to become a star.[29] Her mother has said, "We've always told her that this is not about putting food on our table or making our dreams come true."[30] In Tennessee, Swift attended Hendersonville High School for her freshman and sophomore years.[31] Later, to accommodate her touring schedule, Swift transferred to the Aaron Academy, a private Christian school which offered homeschooling services, and earned her high school diploma in 2008.[32]

Music career 2004–07: Career beginnings and Taylor Swift

Swift moved to Nashville at the age of fourteen, having secured an artist development deal with RCA Records. She had writing sessions with experienced songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally and the Warren Brothers,[33][34] but eventually formed a lasting working relationship with Liz Rose.[35] Swift saw Rose performing at an RCA songwriter event and suggested that they write together.[36] They began meeting for two-hour writing sessions every Tuesday afternoon after school.[37] Rose has said that the sessions were "some of the easiest I've ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She'd write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she'd come in with the most incredible hooks".[38][37] Swift also began recording demos with producer Nathan Chapman.[36] After performing at a BMI Songwriter's Circle showcase at The Bitter End, New York,[34] Swift became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house.[39]

Swift left RCA Records when she was fifteen; the company wanted her to record the work of other songwriters and wait until she was eighteen to release an album, but she felt ready to launch her career with her own material.[40][19] She also parted ways with manager Dan Dymtrow, who later took legal action against Swift and her parents.[28] At an industry showcase at Nashville's The Bluebird Café in 2005, Swift caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a Dreamworks Records executive who was preparing to form his own independent record label, Big Machine Records.[35] Swift was one of the new label's first signings.[35] As an introduction to the country music business, Borchetta arranged for Swift to intern at the CMA Music Festival; she acted as the artist escort for Darryl Worley.[41][42]

Swift began working on her eponymous debut album shortly after signing her record deal. After experimenting with veteran Nashville producers, Swift persuaded Big Machine to hire her demo producer Nathan Chapman.[19] It was his first time to record a studio album but Swift felt they had the right "chemistry".[19] In the end, Chapman produced all but one of the tracks on Taylor Swift.[19] She has described the album as the "diary" of her early teens[43] and most songs were written during her freshman year of high school.[19] As a result, the songs describe coming of age experiences such as insecurity, young love, and teenage angst.[19] She has said that, although "it sounds like I've had 500 boyfriends", a lot of the songs are observational.[19] Swift wrote three of the album's songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining eight with writers such as Liz Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall and Angelo Petraglia.[44] Musically, the album has been described as "a mix of trad-country instruments and spry rock guitars".[45] Taylor Swift was released in October 2006 and received generally positive reviews from music critics.

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