Artist of the Month
Taylor Alison Swift was born in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1989, the daughter of stock broker Scott Swift and homemaker Andrea, and the older sister of brother Austin. Today, of course, she is one of the world's most popular singing sensations, scoring on the country and pop charts, and she owes much of that success to her parents. Recognizing their daughter's talent and ambition -- by the age of 10 she was penning songs and singing in karaoke contests everywhere she could -- Scott and Andrea escorted Taylor to Nashville, where she began collaborating with songwriters and was able to sing in person for record company executives. Eventually, the Swift family settled in a Nashville suburb called Henderson. It was at an establishment called The Bluebird Cafe that Scott Borchetta, an experienced music industry figure who was about to start his own label, liked what he heard and saw during a showcase performance. And guess who he signed to Big Machine Records? Swift was 15 at the time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Swift's first album, called Taylor Swift, was released in 2006 and included the hits "Tim McGraw," "Teardrops on My Guitar," "Our Song," "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No," all either written or co-written by Swift. The album ultimately topped the country charts, reached the top 5 of the pop charts, and sold more than 3 million copies. Along the way, Swift gained a reputation as an assured live performer, playing concerts to increasingly large and passionate crowds, and winning all kinds of awards. It's been noted that anyone can get lucky once, and so countless eyes were on Swift as she set about recording her second album, Fearless. Actually, there'd been a Christmas album (Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection) and a Wal-Mart only EP called Beautiful Eyes.
As Taylor herself wrote about the second album, "It's crazy, the first time making an album, not knowing if people are going to care what I write in a song. And then the second time around, knowing that there are people who are going to know the lyrics that mean so much to me... It makes it all worthwhile." As for that title? "It's a big deal to title your album," she said, "so I wanted to make sure that it was the right call. I started thinking about the word 'fearless' and what it means to me. It isn't that you're completely unafraid. I think fearless is having fears, but jumping anyway."
Fearless was released on November 11, 2008, and debuted in the top slot on the album charts, selling nearly 600,000 copies in its first week. Hit songs included "Love Story," "Change," "Fearless," "You Belong with Me" and "Jump Then Fall." Actually, thanks to an October, 2009, re-release dubbed Fearless: Platinum Edition, the album is the first one ever -- in music history -- to spawn a dozen top-40 hits. Again, Swift supported the album with music videos and concerts, as well as appearances and performances on talk programs and awards shows. One of the shows was the 2009 MTV Music Awards, held on September 13, 2009. While attempting to accept her prize for Best Female Video (for "You Belong with Me"), Swift was interrupted by always-controversial rapper Kanye West, who grabbed her microphone and proceeded to insist that Beyonce and her video for "Single Ladies" deserved the award. The awkward moment ended without Swift having a chance to deliver her thank-you speech. Beyonce, in a classy move, took care of the problem later on in the evening. When she accepted the award for Video of the Year, Beyonce spoke briefly about knowing what it means to win an award at so young an age, and then handed the microphone over to Swift, who finally got to address the audience in the theater and viewers at home.
Swift discussed the incident on The View and then declared herself done talking about it. Of course, that didn't stop her from joking about it briefly during her "Monologue Song" when she hosted and was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in November, 2009. During that same song, she joked about her penchant for writing songs about bad boyfriends, name checking Joe Jonas (who infamously dumped her...by phone), and, after joking that she'd neither confirm nor deny dating a certain Twilight werewolf -- Taylor Lautner -- she winked, blew him a kiss, and mouthed his name. Apparently they are dating and, lucky for him, he's still on her good side. They're also co-starring together in a movie, Valentine's Day (2010), an all-star affair that features Julia Roberts, Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, and Bradley Cooper. And, using her new-found fame for the benefit of others, Swift has supported a variety of charitable causes, including an anti-online predators campaign, the American Red Cross and the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Clearly, Swift isn't letting her celebrity status get to her head. Here's what she had to say when asked by a British website about the most popstar-ish thing she's done since becoming a superstar: "I bought Christian Louboutin heels," Swift admitted. "I wear them with almost everything in the winter. But they're like really nice boots! So I splurged...and that's my one popstar moment."
Written By Ian Spelling (Contributing Writer)