travel 3Sixty° uncovers the story behind the success of the multi-award winning artiste Taylor Swift.
Words: Adli Syahril
American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has been an extremely successful artiste ever since she kicked off her music career in her teenage years. At the age of 24, Swift has four multi-platinum albums, seven Grammy Awards trophies and two Guinness World Records. Swift’s singles never fail to dominate the music charts around the world. With huge achievements for such a young artiste, Taylor Swift is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet!
ROAD TO FAME
Taylor Swift’s music career started in Reading, Pennsylvania when at age 12, she began to write her own music. Swift’s focus at that point in her life was attending school, learning to play a 12-string guitar and writing / singing music about the difficulties many schoolgirls face every day, including bullying. When Swift turned 13, she convinced her parents to move to Nashville, Tennessee – the capital of Country music – where she co-wrote songs and tried to seal a recording contract. Her musical influences included Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and Dixie Chicks. Swift was the youngest person ever to be signed as a staff songwriter for Sony ATV when she was just 14 years old. In November of 2004, Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Records, discovered Swift after her stellar performance at a songwriter’s show at The Bluebird Café and signed her on as his first artiste under the record label.
In 2006, Taylor Swift released her first single titled Tim McGraw. The breakout single became a massive hit; Tim McGraw spent 26 weeks on the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, had more than one million copies sold and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RRIA).
Not too long after the release of that single, Swift took the music scene by storm with the release of her self-titled debut album. This talented artiste wrote all of the songs for her first album during her freshman year of high school and earlier. The album topped music charts in many countries including Australia, Canada and the UK, and spent 24 weeks at the number one spot on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, as well as number five on the Billboard 200 albums list.
In 2007, Taylor Swift’s first single, Tim McGraw, earned this rising superstar her first trophy in the ‘Breakthrough Music Video’ category at the CMT Music Awards. Swift also won several awards including ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ at the Academy of Country Music Awards and ‘Favourite Female Country Artist’ at the American Music Awards, and received her first nomination in the 2008 Grammy Awards for ‘Best New Artist’.
In 2009, Swift became the youngest person ever (19 years old) to win the coveted CMA Entertainer of The Year Award in recognition of her touring success. Her sophomore album, Fearless, ruled the 2010 Grammy Awards where she collected four trophies including the most coveted honour, ‘Album of the Year’. Swift was only 20 years old then, and still holds the record for the youngest star to win the category at the Grammys. She was listed in the Top 12 of the 2010 Forbes’ Celebrity 100, the annual list of 100 most powerful celebrities of the year.
In October 2010, Swift unleashed her third album Speak Now that sold a whopping one million copies in its first week. While embarking on a massive worldwide sold out tour in support of the album, Swift was named ‘Entertainer of the Year’ by Entertainment Weekly, and earned a commemorative plaque for topping 20 million in album sales worldwide for Speak Now and scored more awards including ‘Top Country Album’ at the Billboard Music Awards and ‘Favourite Country Album’ American Music Awards. The superstar also received two trophies at the 2012 Grammy Awards for ‘Best Country Solo Performance’ and ‘Best Country Song’.
Prior to the release of her fourth album Red, Swift unveiled her lead single titled We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together in August 2012. The break-up anthem is Swift’s first number one single in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. When the album was released, it sold like hot cakes: 1.28 million copies sold in the US alone in the first week. It became the 18th album in history to sell a million copies in a single week and on top of that, Swift became the first artist (since The Beatles in 1963) to hold the top spot in the Billboard 200 chart for six weeks with three consecutive studio albums. Taylor has written or co-written every song on every one of her albums.
Taylor Swift is also a personality with a big heart. Apart from making music, she gives back to the community by supporting various causes including arts education, children’s literacy and natural disaster relief. Besides that, Taylor Swift has contributed greatly to helping the victims of natural disasters get back on their feet.
In 2008, Swift donated all profits from the sales of merchandise at the Country Music Festival to the Nashville Area Red Cross Disaster Fund in Middle Tennessee and the National American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. In 2008, Swift won the hearts of residents in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when she contributed USD100,000 to the local Red Cross to help victims of the Iowa flood. Two years later, Swift joined fellow artists like Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake for the Hope For Haiti live TV broadcast in aid of earthquake victims in Haiti. She performed and also volunteered to answer calls from viewers who wished to pledge money to benefit the victims.
In 2009, to promote children’s literacy, Taylor Swift donated USD250,000 to schools that she had either attended or worked with. The money was used to pay teachers’ salaries and purchase books, as well as to fund various educational programmes. Swift performed at a benefit concert in Sydney, Australia on March 14, 2009, to aid the victims of the recent wildfires in the area. In 2010, this singer-songwriter participated in a live webcast for schools called Read Now! With Taylor Swift to celebrate the Read Every Day literacy campaign. Taylor Swift also generously gave away 2,000 books to the Reading Hospital Child Health Center’s early literacy programme, 6,000 books to Reading Public Library in Pennsylvania and 14,000 books to Nashville Public Library in Tennessee. Also in 2010, Swift donated USD75,000 to the Hendersonville High School, her former high school, to refurbish the auditorium’s sound and lighting systems. For her support, the auditorium was named after the generous superstar.
In 2011 Swift took the unprecedented step of opening the last dress rehearsal for her Speak Now Tour to fans as a fundraiser for victims of deadly tornadoes in the Southeast United States. The event raised over USD750,000 in aid.
In 2012, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville received a donation of USD4 million from Swift to fund the construction of a new education centre, the Taylor Swift Education Centre, which includes three classrooms for youth education programmes and workshops. On her 24th birthday last year, Taylor Swift donated USD100,000 to the Nashville Symphony.
Swift continues to show her giving side whether it is in the form of donations, or the multitude of unannounced hospital visits she makes each year. Giving is something she loves to do and does it often.
Here are some cool facts that you might not know about Taylor Swift.
- Thirteen is Taylor Swift’s favourite number.
- Taylor Swift’s mom named her Taylor so that when people saw her name on a business card, they wouldn’t know if she was male or female.
- Besides the guitar, Swift can play the banjo, piano and ukulele.
- When she was in fourth grade, Taylor Swift’s poem, Monster in My Closet, won first place in a national poetry contest.
- In 2012, Taylor Swift was the voice of Audrey in the computer-animated 3D musical fantasy comedy film, The Lorax.
- Taylor Swift has a small but pivotal role in the feature film The Giver, which comes out August 15, 2014
SWIFT PAINTS THE TOWN RED
This month, Taylor Swift will rock fans at the Southeast Asia leg of The RED Tour! Head over to these venues to catch her in action.
June 4: Mata Elang International Stadium (MEIS), Jakarta. www.lamusicstore.co.id
June 6: Mall of Asia Arena, Manila. www.smtickets.com
June 11: Putra Indoor Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. www.ticketpro.com.my
June 9 & 12: Singapore Indoor Stadium. www.sportshub.com.sg
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