Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
December 13, 1989
Currently Known For:
Singer, Songwriter, and Actress
"Our Song," "Love Story," "You Belong with Me," "Shake It Off" and "I Knew You Were Trouble"
“Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in, so shame on me now. Flew me to places I’d never been. So you put me down, oh. I knew you were trouble when you walked in…” As one of the most talked about artists in the industry, it’s no surprise that Taylor Swift is also one of the most popular contemporary artists in the world after first rising to fame in her teens when she became the youngest person to singlehandedly write and perform a number one song on the Hot Country Songs chart. That single was “Our Song,” which she released on her self-titled debut album in 2006. Only 17 years old at the time, Swift hasn’t looked back since and has spent the last 12 years releasing hit after hit while earning 23 Billboard Music Awards, 12 Country Music Awards, 10 Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award. Also holding six Guinness World Records, let’s take a look at the 28-year-old’s stellar career in the spotlight!
From Pennsylvania to Tennessee: The Makings of a Star
“People haven’t always been there for me, but music always has.” Taylor Alison Swift made her debut into the world on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania where her mother was a mutual fund marketing executive turned housewife and her father was a financial advisor. The family briefly lived on a Christmas tree farm before settling down in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania where Swift’s interest in musical theater blossomed when she was nine years old. Making the commute to New York City for voice and acting lessons, Swift also performed with the Berks Youth Theatre Academy and spent the rest of her time studying idols like Shania Twain and Faith Hill.
Eventually trying her hand at country music, Swift dreamed of making her way to Nashville, Tennessee, but the move wouldn’t come until a few years later when she finally confessed her dreams to her mother. “She really wanted me to be a horseback rider, and I did it competitively until I worked up the nerve at age 12 to tell her I didn’t really love it like she loved it,” Swift told Vogue magazine. “I just wanted to make music and do theater.”
Swift’s mother supported her dreams and took her to Nashville where she submitted her first demo tape featuring covers of Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks to the local record labels. However, it was much harder than Swift ever imagined as the 12-year-old was rejected time and time again for being exactly like everyone else. Returning home to Pennsylvania, Swift worked to set herself apart and took guitar and songwriting lessons from a local musician named Ronnie Cremer. The lessons soon paid off and she penned “Lucky You,” which led her to manager Dan Dymtrow who snagged Swift a modeling contract for Abercrombie and Fitch and later scheduled her first performance at an RCA Records showcase.
After the showcase, Swift signed an artist development deal and made frequent trips to Nashville with her mother until her father moved the entire family south. Once in Nashville, Swift’s career blossomed as she collaborated with well-known songwriters before leaving RCA Records when she was 14. In 2005, she was officially discovered at the Bluebird Café where Scott Borchetta signed her as the first artist on his new label, Big Machine Records. Swift’s father bought a stake in the company as Swift started working on her first self-titled album, which was released in 2006 and featured hit singles like “Tim McGraw,” “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Our Song,” “and “Should’ve Said No.”
A Fearless Transition
On the heels of her incredible success with her debut album, Swift cashed in on her growing fame and her ability to attract millions of teenage girls with her heartfelt, confessional-style lyrics and released her second album, Fearless, in 2008. The album was named the best-selling record of 2009 in the United States and earned Swift four Grammy Awards, making her the youngest artist to ever win Album of the Year. The album’s most popular singles, “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me,” were huge successes on both the country and pop charts and signaled a shift in Swift’s future as a crossover artist.
In the meantime, Swift collaborated on projects with John Mayer, Kellie Pickler, and Boys Like Girls in addition to co-writing songs for the Hannah Montana: The Movie and Valentine’s Day soundtracks. She also ventured into acting with a credit in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and made special guest appearances on Saturday Night Live. By 2010, her career was on fire with the release of “Mine” from her third studio album, Speak Now, which became the fastest selling digital album by a female artist with over 278,000 downloads in a week that set a new Guinness World Record. The awards just kept coming thanks to singles like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Begin Again” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
In 2012, Swift released Red and showcased her interest in genres beyond country with hints of dance-pop, dubstep, and heartland rock on the album. Two years later, she left Nashville for New York City and released her fifth studio album, 1989, which was praised as her first official pop album. Setting a new Guinness World Record as the first artist to have three albums sell over one million copies in the first week of their release, Swift wowed her fans with “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space” before taking home the 2014 Billboard Woman of the Year Award.
Life Today – Dealing with Fame, Lawsuits and More
Sealing her fate as “America’s Sweetheart,” Swift’s incredible knack for songwriting brought her personal life front and center especially after dating high profile beaus like Joe Jonas, Lucas Till, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zac Efron, Harry Styles, and Calvin Harris. As a result, the artist took a break from social media to focus on her music and her future as an artist. “The only thing anyone wanted to write about me was about me and some guy,” Swift said. “It was really damaging. You’re thinking, ‘Everybody goes on dates when they’re 22. It’s fine, right?’ Nope. Not when you’re in this situation and everything you do is blown out of proportion and expanded upon. All of a sudden, there’s an overriding opinion that doesn’t accurately reflect how you actually live your life.”
During this time, Swift was also involved in a lawsuit after DJ David Mueller from Denver’s KYGO-FM sexually assaulted her during an event when he reached up her skirt. Swift immediately reported the incident, which led Mueller to lose his job. Mueller sued and Swift counter-sued with the jury ruling in her favor as Swift cleared her social media accounts and later released, “Look What You Made Me Do,” as the lead single from her sixth studio album, Reputation. “When I testified, I had already been in court all week and had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger, and harass my team including my mother over inane details and ridiculous minutiae, accusing them, and me, of lying,” Swift said of coming forward. “In that moment, I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom—why should I be polite? I’m told it was the most amount of times the word ‘ass’ has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court.”
With the jury ruling in Swift’s favor, she soon put the incident behind her and returned to the studio to release two more hit singles, “Gorgeous” and “Call it What You Want.” In the months since then, she officially released Reputation, which sold two million copies worldwide in its first week and became the 2017 best-selling album in the country. To support the album, she’s performed on Saturday Night Live and embarked on the Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018 that has taken her around the globe with 40 shows in North America and over a dozen across Europe, Oceania, and Asia. So, what’s the secret to her success?
The 28-year-old face of country and pop music puts in long hours and a lot of hard work but says her approach is simple—to write about what she knows. “To me, the safest thing I could do was take the biggest risk. I know how to write a song. I’m not confident about a lot of other aspects of my life, but I know how to write a song.” With over 40 million album sales, more than 130 million downloads, and over $280 million to her name, it’s safe to say that Taylor Swift certainly knows a thing or two about writing a chart-topping song—even if it means putting her personal life and her many relationships center stage!