Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter and actress. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music. She signed with 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 self-titled debut album in 2006 established her as a country music star. Her third single, "Our Song," made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart. She received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Swift's second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the pop crossover success of the singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me," Fearless became the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States. The album won four Grammy Awards, making Swift the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Swift's third and fourth albums, 2010's Speak Now and 2012's Red, both sold more than one million copies within the first week of their U.S release. Speak Now's "Mean" won two Grammy Awards, while Red's singles "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble" were worldwide hits. Swift's fifth album, the pop-focused 1989, was released in 2014 and sold more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years, making Swift the first and only act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in the opening release week. The singles "Shake It Off", "Blank Space", and "Bad Blood" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Swift is known for narrative songs about her personal experiences. As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Swift's other achievements include seven Grammy Awards, 22 Billboard Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and one Brit Award. She is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums—including 27.1 million in the U.S.—and 130 million single downloads. Swift has also had supporting roles in feature films including Valentine's Day (2010) and The Giver (2014). In 2015, Swift became the youngest woman ever to be included on Forbes' "100 Most Powerful Women" list, ranking at number 64.
Taylor Swift was born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. She was named after singer James Taylor. Her father, Scott Kingsley Swift, is a Merrill Lynch financial adviser; he was raised in Pennsylvania, and is the descendant of three generations of bank presidents. Her mother, Andrea Gardner (Finlay) Swift, is a homemaker who previously worked as a mutual fund marketing executive. Swift's mother, though American, spent the first 10 years of her life in Singapore, before returning to the U.S. and settling in Texas; her own father was an engineer who worked throughout southeast Asia. Swift has a younger brother named Austin.
Swift spent the early years of her life on a Christmas-tree farm in Cumru Township, Pennsylvania. She attended preschool and kindergarten at the Alvernia Montessori School, run by Franciscan nuns, before moving to the Wyndcroft School, a co-ed private school. Swift and her brother were raised in the Presbyterian faith, and attended vacation bible school every summer. When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to a rented house in the suburban town of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. She attended West Reading Elementary Center and Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School there. Swift summered at her parents' waterfront vacation home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, and described it as the place "where most of my childhood memories were formed."
At the age of nine, Swift became interested in musical theatre and performed in numerous Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. She also traveled regularly to Broadway for vocal and acting lessons. Swift later turned her attention to country music—Shania Twain's songs made her "want to just run around the block four times and daydream about everything." She spent her weekends performing at local festivals, coffeehouses, fairs, karaoke contests, garden clubs, Boy Scout meetings and sporting events. At the age of eleven, after many failed attempts, Swift won a local talent competition and was given the opportunity to appear as the opening act for Charlie Daniels at a Strausstown amphitheater.
After watching a Behind the Music episode about Faith Hill, Swift felt sure that she needed to go to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a music career. At the age of eleven, she traveled with her mother to Nashville to submit a demo, of Dolly Parton and Dixie Chicks 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."
When Swift was 12 years old, she was taught how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You." She had previously won a national poetry contest with a poem titled "Monster in My Closet," but now began to focus on songwriting. In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow. With Dymtrow's help, Swift modelled for Abercrombie & Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included on a Maybelline compilation CD, and attended meetings with major record labels. After performing original songs at an RCA Records showcase, the eighth-grader was given an artist development deal and began making frequent trips to Nashville with her mother. To help Swift break into country music her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch when she was 14, and the family relocated to a lakefront house in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
My parents took all the pressure off by saying, "We're just moving because we love the area, so don't worry." They knew nothing about the industry and had no involvement in entertainment, but I was obsessed with it and so they did their research and read up about it to help me in every way they could. They're amazing people.
In Tennessee, Swift attended Hendersonville High School for her freshman and sophomore years. Later, to accommodate her touring schedule, Swift transferred to the Aaron Academy, a private Christian school that offered homeschooling services. She maintained a 4.0 grade average, and earned her high school diploma in 2008, having completed her final two years of course work in twelve months.
Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was 14 years old, having signed an artist development deal with RCA Records. Swift proceeded to work with experienced Music Row songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally and The Warren Brothers. She eventually formed a lasting working relationship with Liz Rose. Swift saw Rose performing at an RCA songwriter event and suggested that they write together. They began meeting for two-hour writing sessions every Tuesday afternoon after school. Rose 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." Swift also began recording demos with producer Nathan Chapman.
After performing at a BMI Songwriter's Circle showcase at The Bitter End, New York, in 2004, Swift became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house. Swift left RCA Records when she was 15—the company wanted her to record the work of other songwriters and wait until she was 18 to release an album, but she felt ready to launch her career with her own material. Swift later recalled: "I genuinely felt that I was running out of time. I wanted to capture these years of my life on an album while they still represented what I was going through." She also parted ways with manager Dan Dymtrow, who later took legal action against Swift and her parents. In 2010, a judge nullified six of Dymtrow's legal claims. The remaining unjust enrichment claim was settled out of court.
At an industry showcase at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe 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. She became one of the label's first signings, with her father purchasing a three per cent stake in the fledgling company at an estimated cost of $120,000. As an introduction to the country music business, Borchetta arranged for Swift to intern as an artist escort at the CMA Music Festival.
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. It was his first time recording a studio album but Swift felt they had the right "chemistry." Swift wrote three of the album's songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining eight with writers Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall, Brian Maher and Angelo Petraglia. Musically, the album has been described as "a mix of trad-country instruments and spry rock guitars."
Taylor Swift was released on October 24, 2006. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times described it as "a small masterpiece of pop-minded country, both wide-eyed and cynical, held together by Ms. Swift's firm, pleading voice." Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker described the 16-year-old Swift as a "prodigy." He noted that "Our Song" "stop me in my tracks" and praised the lyrics: "He's got a one-hand feel on the steering wheel, the other on my heart." Rolling Stone's reviewer described Swift as "bright-eyed but remarkably seasoned," and admired "Our Song"'s "insanely hooky sing-song melody that's as Britney as it is Patsy."
Big Machine Records was still in its infancy upon the release of the lead single "Tim McGraw" in June 2006, and Swift and her mother helped "stuff the CD singles into envelopes to send to radio." She spent much of 2006 promoting Taylor Swift in a radio tour and later commented, "Radio tours for most artists last six weeks. Mine lasted six months." Swift baked cookies and painted canvases to gift to radio station programmers who played her music. She made many television appearances, including on the Grand Ole Opry, Good Morning America, and TRL. Swift, a self-described "kid of the internet," used Myspace to build a fanbase. This was, at the time, "revolutionary in country music." Borchetta has said that his decision to sign a 16-year-old singer-songwriter initially raised eyebrows among his record industry peers but Swift tapped into a previously unknown market: teenage girls who listen to country music.
Following "Tim McGraw", four further singles were released throughout 2007 and 2008: "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No". All were highly successful on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, with "Our Song" and "Should've Said No" both reaching number one. "Our Song" made Swift the youngest person to single-handedly write and sing a number-one country song. "Teardrops on My Guitar" became a minor pop hit; it reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album sold 39,000 copies during its first week of release and, as of March 2011, had sold over 5.5 million copies worldwide. Swift also released a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, in October 2007, and an EP, Beautiful Eyes, in July 2008.
Swift toured extensively in support of Taylor Swift. In addition to her own material, Swift played covers of songs by Beyoncé, Rihanna, John Waite, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Eminem. She conducted meet-and-greet sessions with fans before and after her concerts—these lasted for up to four hours. As well as festival and theater dates, Swift performed as an opening act for several country artists' concert tours. In late 2006, she opened for Rascal Flatts on the final nine dates of their Me & My Gang Tour, after the previous supporting act Eric Church was fired. Swift later sent Church her first gold record with a note: "Thanks for playing 'too long' and 'too loud' on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor." In 2007, she served as the opening act on twenty dates for George Strait's tour, several dates on Kenny Chesney's Flip-Flop Summer Tour, selected dates on Brad Paisley's Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour and several dates for Tim McGraw and Hill's joint Soul2Soul II Tour. Swift again opened for Rascal Flatts on their Still Feels Good Tour in 2008.
Swift and Alan Jackson were jointly named the Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist of the Year in 2007, with Swift becoming the youngest person ever to be honored with the title. She also won the Country Music Association's Horizon Award for Best New Artist, the Academy of Country Music Awards's Top New Female Vocalist award and the American Music Awards's Favorite Country Female Artist honor. She was also nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist, but lost to Amy Winehouse.
Swift's second studio album, Fearless, was released on November 11, 2008. Swift wrote seven of the album's songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining six with songwriters Rose, John Rich, Colbie Caillat and Hillary Lindsey. She co-produced the album with Nathan Chapman. Musically, it has been said that the record is characterized by "loud, lean guitars and rousing choruses," with the occasional "bit of fiddle and banjo tucked into the mix."
Caramanica of The New York Times described Swift as "one of pop's finest songwriters, country's foremost pragmatist and more in touch with her inner life than most adults." Josh Love of The Village Voice felt she displayed "preternatural wisdom and inclusiveness," "masterfully avoiding the typical diarist's pitfalls of trite banality and pseudo-profound bullshit." Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone described her as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture" whose "squirmingly intimate and true" songs seemed to be "literally ripped from a suburban girl's diary." Music critic Robert Christgau characterized Swift as "an uncommonly-to-impossibly strong and gifted teenage girl."
Swift, who now owned her own management company led by Robert Allen, promoted Fearless heavily upon its release. An episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show was dedicated to the album launch and Swift appeared on many other chat shows. She communicated with fans using social media platforms such as Twitter and personal video blogs and co-hosted the pre-show for the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
The lead single from the album, "Love Story", was released in September 2008 and became the second-best-selling country single of all time, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Four more singles were released throughout 2008 and 2009: "White Horse", "You Belong with Me", "Fifteen" and "Fearless". "You Belong with Me" was the album's highest-charting single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Album Chart with sales of 592,304, and has since sold over 8.6 million copies worldwide. It was the top-selling album of 2009 and brought Swift much crossover success.
Swift went on her first headlining tour in support of Fearless. As part of the 105-date Fearless Tour, Swift played shows in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Swift invited Hill, John Mayer, and Katy Perry to perform one-off duets with her at various dates during the North American tour, while support acts included Justin Bieber. The tour was attended by more than 1.1 million fans and grossed over $63 million. Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless, a concert film, was aired on television and later released on DVD and Blu-ray. Swift also performed as a supporting act for Keith Urban's Escape Together World Tour.
In addition to tour dates, the singer paid tribute to a number of fellow artists in televised performances. She performed a cover of Alan Jackson's "Drive" at the CMT Giants: Alan Jackson event, took part in a joint, televised concert with rock band Def Leppard in Nashville, and performed a cover of Strait's "Run" at a televised ACM event honoring Strait as the Artist of the Decade. Swift sang her song "Fifteen" with Miley Cyrus at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards and performed a self-penned rap skit with T-Pain at the CMT Awards.
Swift also recorded a number of side-projects. She released a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" through Rhapsody in 2009, and made her stage entrance to Petty's recording of the song until 2013. She contributed backing vocals to Mayer's "Half of My Heart", a single featured on his fourth album. She co-wrote and recorded "Best Days of Your Life" with Kellie Pickler and co-wrote two songs for the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack—"You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home" and "Crazier"—with Martin Johnson and Robert Ellis Orrall, respectively. Swift also provided vocals for Boys Like Girls's "Two Is Better Than One", written by Martin Johnson. She contributed two songs—including "Today Was a Fairytale"—to the Valentine's Day soundtrack, and recorded a cover of Better Than Ezra's "Breathless" for the Hope for Haiti Now album.
Swift became the first country music artist to win an MTV Video Music Award when "You Belong with Me" was named Best Female Video in 2009. Her acceptance speech was interrupted by rapper Kanye West, who had been involved in a number of other award show incidents. In the event's press room, Swift, a fan of West's music, said that she did not have "any hard feelings" toward him. The incident received much media attention and inspired many Internet memes. A few days later, Swift told an interviewer that West offered her a personal apology, which she accepted: "He was very sincere." She refused to discuss the incident in subsequent interviews so as not to make a "bigger deal" of it: "It happened on TV, so everybody saw what happened ... It's not something I feel like we need to keep talking about." It has been said that the incident and subsequent media attention turned Swift into "a bona-fide mainstream celebrity."
Swift won four Grammy Awards in 2010, from a total of eight nominations. Fearless was named Album of the Year and Best Country Album, while "White Horse" was named Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. She was the youngest ever artist to win Album of the Year.
During the 2010 Grammy Awards ceremony, Swift sang "You Belong with Me" and "Rhiannon" with Stevie Nicks. Her vocal performance received negative reviews and sparked a widespread media backlash. Her vocals were described variously as "badly off-key," "strikingly bad" and "incredibly wretched." While Caramanica of The New York Times found it "refreshing to see someone so gifted make the occasional flub" and described Swift as "the most important new pop star of the past few years," music analyst Bob Lefsetz predicted that her career would end "overnight." He publicly appealed to Swift's father to hire a "crisis publicity agent" to manage the story because "Taylor's too young and dumb to understand the mistake she made." Stevie Nicks, writing in Time, defended the singer:
Taylor reminds me of myself in her determination and her childlike nature. It's an innocence that's so special and so rare. This girl writes the songs that make the whole world sing, like Neil Diamond or Elton John ... The female rock-'n'-roll-country-pop songwriter is back, and her name is Taylor Swift. And it's women like her who are going to save the music business.
Fearless won many other accolades and has become the most-awarded album in country music history. Swift became the youngest ever artist and one of only six women to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. Fearless also won the Association's Album of the Year award. Swift was the youngest ever artist to win the Academy of Country Music's Album of the Year honor. The American Music Awards honored Swift with Artist of the Year and Favorite Country Album plaudits. She was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association. Billboard named her 2009's Artist of the Year. Swift was included in Time 's annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in 2010.
Swift released her third studio album, Speak Now, on October 25, 2010. She wrote all 14 songs alone and co-produced the record with longtime collaborator Chapman. Musically, it has been said that the album "expands beyond country-pop to border both alternative rock and dirty bubblegum pop."
Caramanica of The New York Times described the album as savage, musically diverse and "excellent too, possibly her best." Theon Weber of The Village Voice remarked that the album demanded "a true appreciation of Swift's talent, which is not confessional, but dramatic: Like a procession of country songwriters before her, she creates characters and situations—some from life—and finds potent ways to describe them." Christgau found the album's songs "overlong and overworked" but remarked that "they evince an effort that bears a remarkable resemblance to care—that is, to caring in the best, broadest, and most emotional sense." Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone described Swift as one of the best songwriters in "pop, rock or country": "Swift might be a clever Nashville pro who knows all the hitmaking tricks, but she's also a high-strung, hyper-romantic gal with a melodramatic streak the size of the Atchafalaya Swamp."
Swift carried out an extensive promotional campaign prior to Speak Now's release. She appeared on various talk shows and morning shows, and gave free mini-concerts in unusual locations, including an open-decker bus on Hollywood Boulevard and a departure lounge at JFK airport. She took part in a "guitar pull" alongside Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill and Lionel Richie at LA's Club Nokia. The musicians shared the stage and took turns introducing and playing acoustic versions of their songs to raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The album's lead single, "Mine", was released in August 2010, and five further singles were released throughout 2010 and 2011: "Back to December", "Mean", "The Story of Us", "Sparks Fly" and "Ours". Speak Now was a major commercial success, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. Its opening sales of 1,047,000 copies made it the 16th album in U.S. history to sell one million copies in a single week. As of February 2012, Speak Now had sold over 5.7 million copies worldwide.
Swift toured throughout 2011 and early 2012 in support of Speak Now. As part of the 111-date world tour, Swift played shows in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Swift invited many musicians to join her for one-off duets during the North American tour. Appearances were made by Bieber, McGraw, James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Shawn Colvin, Johnny Rzeznik, Andy Grammer, Selena Gomez, Tal Bachman, Nicki Minaj, Nelly, B.o.B, Usher, Flo Rida, T.I., Jon Foreman, Jim Adkins, Hayley Williams, Hot Chelle Rae, Ronnie Dunn, Darius Rucker, and Kenny Chesney. During the North American tour leg, Swift wrote different song lyrics on her left arm for each performance, and said that the lyrics should be viewed as a nightly "mood ring." Swift also performed numerous acoustic cover versions during her North American tour. In each city, she paid tribute to a homegrown artist. She said the cover versions allowed her to be "spontaneous" in an otherwise well-rehearsed show. The tour was attended by over 1.6 million fans and grossed over $123 million. Swift's first live album, Speak Now World Tour: Live, featuring all 17 performances from the North American leg of the tour, was released in November 2011.
At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Swift's song "Mean" won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance. She also performed the song during the ceremony. Lefsetz, one of the most vocal critics of her 2010 Grammy performance, believes the song is addressed to him. Lefsetz had previously been a supporter of the singer's career, and Swift and Lefsetz had corresponded occasionally by email and telephone. Claire Suddath of Time felt she "delivered her comeback on-key and with a vengeance" while Jayme Deerwester of USA Today remarked that the criticism in 2010 seemed to have "made her a better songwriter and live performer."
Swift won various other awards for Speak Now. She was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association in both 2010 and 2011. She was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in both 2011 and 2012, and was named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2011. Swift was the American Music Awards's Artist of the Year in 2011, while Speak Now was named Favorite Country Album. Billboard named Swift 2011's Woman of the Year.
While Swift was completing her fourth album in the summer of 2012, Taylor invited her to appear as a special guest during his Tanglewood set—they performed "Fire and Rain", "Love Story" and "Ours" together. Taylor, who first met Swift when she was 18, has said that, "we just hit it off. I loved her songs, and her presence on stage was so great."
During this period, Swift also contributed two original songs to The Hunger Games soundtrack album. "Safe & Sound" was co-written and recorded with The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett. John Paul White has said working with Swift was "a revelation ... It truly was a collaboration." It was released as the album's lead single and, as of January 2013, has sold over 1.4 million copies in the U.S. It won Best Song Written For Visual Media at the 2013 Grammy Awards and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 70th Golden Globe Awards. Swift's second contribution to the album, "Eyes Open", was written solely by the singer and produced by Chapman. In addition, Swift contributed vocals to "Both of Us", a Dr. Luke-produced single from B.o.B's second album Strange Clouds.
Swift's fourth studio album, Red, was released on October 22, 2012. She wrote nine of the album's 16 songs alone, while the remaining seven were co-written with Rose, Max Martin, Dan Wilson, Ed Sheeran, and Gary Lightbody. Chapman served as the album's lead producer but Jeff Bhasker, Butch Walker, Jacknife Lee, Dann Huff and Shellback also produced individual tracks. Chapman said he encouraged Swift "to branch out and to test herself in other situations." Musically, while there is experimentation with heartland rock, dubstep and dance-pop, it is "sprinkled among more recognisably Swiftian fare."
Caramanica of The New York Times found Red "less detailed and more rushed than her usual fare" but placed it at number two on his end-of-year list, characterizing it as the album on which Swift "stops pretending she's anything but a pop megastar, one with grown-up concerns, like how two bodies speak to each other and how taste in records can be a stand-in for moral turpitude." Lisa Verrico of The Times praised her "sublime" lyrics, particularly those on the "brooding" "All Too Well". Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone enjoyed "watching Swift find her pony-footing on Great Songwriter Mountain. She often succeeds in joining the Joni/Carole King tradition of stark-relief emotional mapping ... Her self-discovery project is one of the best stories in pop."
As part of the Red promotional campaign, representatives from 72 worldwide radio stations were flown to Nashville during release week for individual interviews with Swift. She also appeared on many television chat shows and performed at award ceremonies in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Australia.
The album's lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", became Swift's first number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Six further singles were released: "Begin Again" (for country radio), "I Knew You Were Trouble", "22", "Everything Has Changed", "The Last Time" (all for pop and international radio) and "Red" (for country radio). "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble" were both international hits. Red debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.21 million copies—this marked the highest opening sales in a decade and made Swift the first female to have two million-selling album openings. As of May 2013, Red had sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
As part of The Red Tour, Swift played 86 dates in North America, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia. Sheeran was the support act for the North American dates and sang "Everything Has Changed" with Swift nightly. She invited special guests such as Carly Simon, Tegan and Sara, Jennifer Lopez, Luke Bryan, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Ellie Goulding, Nelly, Sara Bareilles, Cher Lloyd, B.o.B, Lightbody, Train, Neon Trees, Flatts, Hunter Hayes, Emeli Sandé and Sam Smith to duet with her on various nights of the tour. The tour was attended by over 1.7 million fans and grossed over $150 million.
Swift collaborated with a number of other artists during the Red era. She co-wrote "Sweeter Than Fiction" with Jack Antonoff for the One Chance movie soundtrack, and received a Best Original Song nomination at the 71st Golden Globe Awards. She provided guest vocals for a McGraw song titled "Highway Don't Care", featuring guitar work by Urban—the trio performed the song live on three occasions. She performed an acoustic version of "Red" with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss at the 2013 CMA Awards. Swift performed "As Tears Go By" with The Rolling Stones in Chicago as part of their 50 & Counting... tour. She also joined Florida Georgia Line on stage during their set at the 2013 Country Radio Seminar to sing "Cruise".
Red did not win any Grammy Awards, but was nominated in a total of four categories. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was a Record of the Year nominee at the 2013 Grammy Awards, while Red was an Album of the Year nominee at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Similarly, Swift's fourth album did not win any awards at the Country Music Association's annual ceremony. However, Swift was honored by the Association with a special Pinnacle Award for "unique" levels of success; Garth Brooks is the only other recipient. McGraw, Hill, Urban, Flatts, Strait and Brad Paisley presented Swift with the award, while Mick Jagger, Simon, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Ethel Kennedy and Justin Timberlake recorded video messages. The New York Times considered it an attempt to persuade "country music's cash cow, its creative engine, its ambassador to the wider world" to remain within the genre while The New Yorker wondered whether "it may have been the moment when Swift and the genre that helped steer her toward pop domination said goodbye."
Swift won three MTV Europe Music Awards in 2012, including the honors for Best Female and Best Live Act. "I Knew You Were Trouble" won Best Female Video at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. She was named Best Female Country Artist at the 2012 American Music Awards and was named Artist of the Year at the 2013 ceremony. The Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist Award went to Swift for the fifth and sixth consecutive years in 2012 and 2013.
In the Red era, Swift's romantic life became the subject of intense media scrutiny. Gawker remarked that Swift had dated "every man in the universe." The Westboro Baptist Church protested Swift's concerts, labelling her "the whorish face of doomed America," while Abercrombie & Fitch marketed a slogan T-shirt with a "slut-shaming" Swift reference. The New York Times asserted that her "dating history has begun to stir what feels like the beginning of a backlash" and questioned whether Swift was in the midst of a "quarter-life crisis." At the 2013 Golden Globes award ceremony, comediennes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made a joke about Swift's serial-dating reputation, with Fey warning her to "stay away" from young men in the audience: "She needs some 'me' time to learn about herself." Swift was later asked about the incident in a Vanity Fair profile: "I can laugh at myself (but it added to) everyone jumping on the bandwagon of 'Taylor dates too much.'" Elsewhere in the article, while discussing what the journalist describes as "the Golden Globes, and mean girls in general," Swift approvingly quoted Madeline Albright's remark that, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."
Swift's fifth studio album, 1989, was released on October 27, 2014. Swift wrote one song alone, and co-wrote the remaining 12 with Antonoff, Martin, Shellback, Imogen Heap, Ryan Tedder and Ali Payami. Martin and Swift served as executive co-producers while Chapman, Antonoff, Heap, Tedder, Payami and Greg Kurstin produced individual tracks. Musically, it has been described as an album "driven by synths and drums in lieu of guitar." Swift herself described 1989 as her first "official" pop release and parted ways with some members of her longtime band.
The critical response to 1989 was frequently positive. Sheffield of Rolling Stone noted: "Deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic, 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she's ever tried before." Molly Lambert of Grantland remarked that the "late-'80s album 1989 really resembles is Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love," citing both artists' change of musical direction, shift in public image and split with longtime band members. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian praised the album's "Springsteenesque narratives of escape and the kind of doomed romantic fatalism in which 60s girl groups dealt ... On 1989 the reasons she's afforded the kind of respect denied to her peers are abundantly obvious."
As part of the 1989 promotional campaign, Swift invited fans to secret album-listening sessions, called the "1989 Secret Sessions," at her houses in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and Rhode Island. Her "expert" use of various social media platforms was remarked upon by industry analysts. She also appeared on many chat shows, performed at award shows in the U.S. and England, and appeared as a contestant advisor for The Voice.
The album's lead single, "Shake It Off," was released in August 2014 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Three further singles have been released; "Blank Space" and the remixed / single version of "Bad Blood" were released as the second and fourth singles, respectively, with both of them reaching number one in the United States. The third single, "Style", was a top ten hit in the United States as well, reaching number 6. 1989 sold 1,287,000 copies in the U.S. during the first week of release, selling more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years. This has made Swift the first and only act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in the opening release week. It later became the best-selling album of 2014, selling 3.66 million copies. As of February 2015, 1989 had sold over 8.6 million copies worldwide. Prior to 1989's release, Swift wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, emphasizing the ongoing importance of albums, and, in November 2014, she removed her entire catalog from Spotify, arguing that the streaming company's ad-supported free service undermines the premium service, which provides higher royalties for songwriters. However, her back catalog remains available on non-Spotify streaming services. On June 21, 2015, Swift criticized Apple Music, the music streaming service by Apple Inc., for not offering royalties to artists during the streaming service's free three-month trial period. In an open letter, she called the arrangement "unfair", saying, "Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. Please don't ask us (recording artists) to provide you with our music for no compensation", and stated that she would pull the album 1989 from the catalog. A day later, Eddy Cue announced on Twitter that Apple was changing its policy, and will pay artists even during the free trial period. Also via Twitter, Swift wrote "After the events of this week, I've decided to put 1989 on Apple Music... And happily so". She concluded saying that wasn't an exclusive deal with Apple and it was "the first time it's felt right in my gut to stream my album".
As part of The 1989 World Tour, running from May to December 2015, Swift is scheduled to perform in Japan, the U.S., Canada, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. HAIM, Vance Joy, Shawn Mendes and James Bay are planned to appear as the support acts for various legs of the tour.
Swift collaborated with other artists during the 1989 era. She performed "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Shake It Off" with Paul McCartney at the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special after-party, and joined Kenny Chesney to sing "Big Star" on the opening night of his Big Revival Tour in Nashville. She also accompanied Madonna on guitar for an acoustic performance of "Ghosttown" at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Swift was named Billboard's Woman Of Year in 2014; she is the only artist to be awarded this title twice. Also that year, she received the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at the American Music Awards. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, "Shake It Off" was nominated for three awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year while, at the 2015 Brit Awards, Swift won the International Female Solo Artist category. Swift was named by Time magazine as one of the 2015 Time 100, in the "Icons" category. Swift was one of eight artists to receive a 50th Anniversary Milestone Award at the 2015 Academy of Country Music Awards.
On August 5, 2015, Swift announced "Wildest Dreams" will be released as the fifth single from 1989.
One of Swift's earliest musical memories is listening to her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay (née Moehlenkamp), sing at church. In her youth, Finlay was a television host in Puerto Rico, and performed in operas in Thailand and Singapore. As a very young child, Swift enjoyed Disney movie soundtracks: "My parents noticed that, once I had run out of words, I would just make up my own." Later, her parents exposed her to artists such as James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel and Def Leppard. Swift has said she owes her confidence to her mother, who helped her prepare for class presentations as a child. She also attributes her "fascination with writing and storytelling" to her mother.
Swift was introduced to country music by "the great female country artists of the '90s ... Shania, Faith, the Dixie Chicks." She was drawn to both the sound and storytelling of country music. Twain, both as a songwriter and performer, was her biggest musical influence. Hill was Swift's childhood role model: "Everything she said, did, wore, I tried to copy it." Swift admired the Dixie Chicks's defiant attitude and their ability to play their own instruments. The band's "Cowboy Take Me Away" was the first song Swift learned to play on the guitar.
Swift then began to explore the music of older country stars, including Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. She believes Parton is "an amazing example to every female songwriter out there." Other mainstream country influences include Miranda Lambert, Dwight Yoakam, Strait, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, Jackson, Martina McBride, Rimes, McGraw and Brad Paisley. Swift also admires alt-country artists such as Ryan Adams, Patty Griffin, Lori McKenna and Bon Iver.
Swift has also been influenced by many artists outside the country genre. As a pre-teen, she enjoyed bubblegum pop acts including Hanson and Britney Spears; she still has "unwavering devotion" for Spears. In her high school years, Swift listened to emo bands such as Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy, The All-American Rejects and Jimmy Eat World. She was also a fan of contemporary female singer-songwriters including Celine Dion, Ingrid Michaelson, Michelle Branch, Pink, Alanis Morissette, Ashlee Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Fefe Dobson and Avril Lavigne.
Swift closely followed the musical supervision on the television dramas The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy, downloading "every" song featured. She is a fan of hip hop music, stating that "Pride [in a lifestyle] is something that both country and hip-hop share." Swift also drew inspiration from the catalogues of veteran artists. She describes Nicks as a "hero" who "has inspired me in so many ways." Petty, she has said, "is on a pedestal for me." She is "obsessed" with Sixties acts like The Shirelles, Doris Troy and The Beach Boys. Influence also came from older female pop rock singers including Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge, Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Colvin and Linda Ronstadt.
Swift lists Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson and Carly Simon as her career role models: "They've taken chances, but they've also been the same artist for their entire careers." McCartney, both as a Beatle and a solo artist, makes Swift feel "as if I've been let into his heart and his mind": "Any musician could only dream of a legacy like that." She admires Springsteen because he is "so musically relevant after such a long period of time." She aspires to be like Harris as she grows older: "It's not about fame for her, it's about music." Swift says of Kristofferson: "He shines in songwriting ... He's just one of those people who has been in this business for years but you can tell it hasn't chewed him up and spat him out." She admires Simon's "songwriting and honesty": "She's known as an emotional person but a strong person."
Thematically, The Guardian noted that Swift was "fantastically good at regarding teenage life with a kind of wistful, sepia-toned nostalgia" over the course of her first two albums. New York Magazine remarked that few singer-songwriters have written "great records so explicitly about their teens ... Her nearest antecedent might be sixties-era Brian Wilson, the one true adolescent auteur before she came along." Comparisons have also been drawn with Janis Ian.
Fairytale imagery featured on Swift's second album, Fearless. She explored the disconnect "between fairy tales and the reality of love." Her later albums address more adult relationships. In addition to romance and love, Swift's songs have discussed parent-child relationships ("The Best Day", "Never Grow Up", "Ronan"), friendships ("Fifteen", "Breathe", "22", "Bad Blood"), alienation ("The Outside", "A Place in This World", "Tied Together with a Smile", "Mean", "Shake It Off"), fame ("The Lucky One", "I Know Places"), and career ambitions ("Change", "Long Live").
It has been said that Swift's defining quality as a songwriter is "a determination to register and hang onto fleeting feelings and impressions, a pre-emptive nostalgia for a present (and sometimes even a future) that she knows will some day be in the past." Swift frequently includes "a tossed-off phrase to suggest large and serious things that won't fit in the song, things that enhance or subvert the surface narrative." The New Yorker has said that her songs, "though they are not subversive, have a certain sophistication ... Sentimental songs are laced with intimations of future disillusionment."
Structurally, Slate notes that Swift has "effortless, preternatural mastery of pop conventions: Very few songwriters can build better bridges than she does." Rolling Stone described her as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture." The Village Voice noted that Swift uses third-verse POV reversals frequently. In terms of imagery, repetition is evident in Swift's songwriting. In the words of The Guardian, "she spends so much time kissin' in the rain that it seems a miracle she hasn't developed trenchfoot." The writer added, "to Swift's credit, she explores new lyrical motifs over the course of [her fourth] album." American Songwriter describes Swift as "a great songwriter, who writes with an unmatched and almost unnatural acuity ... Even her earliest material is characterized by thoughtful – perhaps meticulous – word choice and deliberate melodic construction, with nary a lazy rhyme or aimless tune to be found." While reviews of Swift's work are "almost uniformly positive," The New Yorker has said she is generally portrayed "more as a skilled technician than as a Dylanesque visionary."
"For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that's taking something that potentially should be celebrated – a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way – that's taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist."
Swift uses autobiographical detail in her work. Listening to music as a child, she felt confused "when I knew something was going on in someone's personal life and they didn't address it in their music."
The New York Times believes that "righting wrongs is Ms. Swift's raison d'être." In her songs, Swift often addresses the "anonymous crushes of her high school years" and, more recently, fellow celebrities. Mayer, the presumed subject of "Dear John", has said the song "humiliated" him: "I think it's kind of cheap songwriting. I know she's the biggest thing in the world, and I'm not trying to sink anybody's ship, but I think it's abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, 'Wait till he gets a load of this!'" The Village Voice has downplayed this aspect of Swift's songwriting: "Being told What Songs Mean is like having a really pushy professor. And it imperils a true appreciation of Swift's talent, which is not confessional, but dramatic." New York Magazine believes the media scrutiny over her decision to use autobiographical detail "is sexist, inasmuch as it's not asked of her male peers": "It's a relief to see Swift, the ur-nice-girl, refuse to give the mea culpa that many journalists she's talked to have sought."
The singer herself has said that all her songs are not factual and are often based on observations. Aside from her liner note clues, Swift tries not to talk specifically about song subjects "because these are real people. You try to give insight as to where you were coming from as a writer without completely throwing somebody under the bus."
Swift's music contains elements of pop, pop rock and country. She self-identified as a country artist until the 2014 release of 1989, which she has described as a "sonically cohesive pop album." Despite the pop direction of 1989, Swift intends to record further country music albums in the future.
Rolling Stone asserted that, "she might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days." The New York Times noted that, "There isn't much in Ms. Swift's music to indicate country—a few banjo strums, a pair of cowboy boots worn onstage, a bedazzled guitar—but there's something in her winsome, vulnerable delivery that's unique to Nashville." The New Yorker believes she is "considered part of Nashville's country-pop tradition only because she writes narrative songs with melodic clarity and dramatic shape—Nashville's stock-in-trade." The Guardian has said that Swift "cranks melodies out with the pitiless efficiency of a Scandinavian pop factory."
Swift possesses a light-lyric soprano vocal range of two octaves from E3 to F#5. Her voice has been described as "sweet, but soft." In studio recordings, the Los Angeles Times identifies Swift's "defining" vocal gesture as "the line that slides down like a contented sigh or up like a raised eyebrow, giving her beloved girl-time hits their air of easy intimacy." Rolling Stone, in a Speak Now review, remarked: "Swift's voice is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer; she lowers her voice for the payoff lines in the classic mode of a shy girl trying to talk tough." In another review of Speak Now, The Village Voice noted that her phrasing was previously "bland and muddled, but that's changed. She can still sound strained and thin, and often strays into a pitch that drives some people crazy; but she's learned how to make words sound like what they mean."
In a live setting, Swift, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "does her best, but certainly doesn't have the pipes to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Christina Aguilera or Carrie Underwood." Her live vocals were described in 2009 as "flat," "thin, and sometimes as wobbly as a newborn colt." However, Swift has received praise for refusing to correct her pitch with Auto-Tune.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Swift characterized herself primarily as a songwriter: "I write songs, and my voice is just a way to get those lyrics across." Borchetta conceded in 2010 that Swift is "not the best technical singer," but described her as the "best communicator that we've got." Swift's vocal presence is something that concerns her and she has "put a lot of work" into improving it. It was reported in 2010 that she continues to take vocal lessons. She has said that she only feels nervous performing "if I'm not sure what the audience thinks of me, like at award shows."
Swift has high Q Score and Davie-Brown Index ratings, reflecting a high level of public awareness (90 percent) and popularity (80 percent) in the U.S. The singer considers it her "responsibility" to be conscious of her influence on young fans. A Rolling Stone journalist who profiled Swift in 2009 remarked upon her polite manners: "If this is Swift's game face, it must be tattooed on because it never drops."
In 2012, Rolling Stone remarked upon Swift's "ease with glad-handing" while The Hollywood Reporter described her as "the Best People Person since Bill Clinton." It has been said that she is "the kind of driven, intensely ambitious person who'd thrive regardless of her profession." A 2012 Vogue cover story described Swift as "clever and funny and occasionally downright bawdy" in person. Grantland describes Swift as "dorky" and "openly neurotic in a way you'd never see from a blonde country princess like Faith Hill or Carrie Underwood. She is more like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall: overly gracious and eager to please but full of a nonstop, nervous, fluttering energy."
While promoting 1989, Swift began to use social media to respond directly to her fans and invited 100 fans to appear in the "Shake It Off" music video. Swift has sent holiday gifts to fans by post and in person, dubbed "Swiftmas", and has invited fans to her home to spend time with her. She has said that her fans are "the longest and best relationship I have ever had", and regularly recognizes them in awards ceremonies. She has also been known to track down and find fans who attend. Taylor interacts with her fans heavily on social media, including Instagram and more recently, Tumblr—even while attending awards ceremonies.
In the early years of her career, Swift's signature look consisted of sundresses and cowboy boots. This fashion style is still copied by many of the young fans who attend her concerts. At formal events, Swift became known for "sparkly, beaded dresses." Her naturally curly hairstyle is replicated by fans, and Swift has remarked: "I remember straightening my hair because I wanted to be like everybody else, and now the fact that anybody would emulate what I do? It's just funny." She was asked by Vogue to cut bangs for a cover shoot in late 2011, and now often straightens her hair. Swift was named an Icon of American Style by Vogue in 2011.
Swift's work has received praise from veteran artists. Bill Withers says: "She's clever. Being a songwriter, I can appreciate her wit. She deserves all of her success." Neil Young describes her as "a great writer": "I like Taylor Swift. I like listening to her. I kind of like watching her respond to all the attacks. I like the ways she's defining herself. So I keep my eye on it." Stephen Stills defended Swift's confessional writing style: "That's what you do as a songwriter ... Wear your heart on your sleeve, then just write about it. Fuck 'em. If I was young, I would be one of Taylor Swift's conquests."1
James Taylor, who performed with Swift on two occasions, said that "we just hit it off. I loved her songs, and her presence on stage was so great." Elvis Costello remarked: "I think she is quite interesting ... You can see a degree of self-possession there, and I'm intrigued by that." Judy Collins points to Swift as an example of a current star who is continuing on the lineage of being an independent-minded artist. Steve Earle said of 1989: "It's a really good record! She's a real songwriter."
In regard to Swift, Kristofferson said that "she blows me away. It's amazing to me that someone so young is writing such great songs. She's got a great career ahead of her." Janis Ian notes that Swift "changed the face of music, songwriting and guitar playing for girls ... There is an authenticity there." Nicks believes Swift writes "songs that make the whole world sing, like Neil Diamond or Elton John." She remarked that the younger singer's "Today Was A Fairytale" has "stayed in my heart forever. And it just reminds me of me in a lot of ways." Lindsey Buckingham named Swift as a current artist who may have the staying power of Fleetwood Mac: "I actually like Taylor Swift. I admire what she’s been able to do."
Jon Bon Jovi describes her as "the real deal in every way, shape and form. She's a writer, she's a singer, she's a beautiful girl ... Like, she's going to be around." Parton is "extremely impressed with her, especially with her songwriting ... I'm real impressed with the depth of her sometimes. She's got the qualities that could last a long time." Etheridge remarks: "I love her soul, her spirit. I think she's going to surprise people and I think she's going to be around for a long time."
Swift has also received songwriting praise from contemporaries. Mayer was a supporter of Swift's early career—the duo recorded a duet and performed in concert together on two occasions: "You could put her in a time machine in any era and she would have a hit record." Ryan Adams described her as one of the "most fucking amazing writers I’ve ever seen. I’ve sat in this room with her before and heard a song she was constructing on the spot and it was unbelievable. It was pure alchemy." Kathleen Hanna is "totally into Taylor Swift. I think she has super-clever lyrics, and I love that she writes her own music." Shirley Manson remarked that Swift is "exceedingly talented at songwriting ... She drew her own door and walked right through it. We should applaud her balls for bucking the system. That's what artists are supposed to do." Lena Dunham, the creator and star of HBO's television series Girls, has described Swift as her "artistic kindred spirit." She also received praise from Drake, Tegan and Sara, Grimes, Kesha, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Lady Gaga.
While promoting her debut album, Swift appeared as a spokesmodel for l.e.i. jeans and as the face of Verizon Wireless' Mobile Music campaign. In the Fearless era, she launched a l.e.i. sundress range at Wal-Mart, and designed American Greetings cards and Jakks Pacific dolls. She became a spokesperson for the NHL's Nashville Predators and Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras. She performed in a commercial for the Band Hero video game, with Rivers Cuomo, Pete Wentz and Travis Barker appearing as her backing band. In the Speak Now era, she released a special edition of her album through Target. Swift became a CoverGirl spokesmodel, launched two Elizabeth Arden fragrances, Wonderstruck and Wonderstruck Enchanted.
While promoting her fourth album Red, Swift offered exclusive album promotions through Target, Papa John's Pizza and Walgreens. She became a spokesmodel for Diet Coke and Keds sneakers, released her third Elizabeth Arden fragrance titled Taylor by Taylor Swift, and continued her partnerships with Sony Electronics and American Greetings. Swift also partnered with a number of companies during the Red Tour; AirAsia and Qantas acted as the official airlines for the Australian and Asian legs, while Cornetto sponsored the Asian leg of the tour. While promoting 1989, Swift had tie-ins with Subway, Keds, Target and Diet Coke. In 2014, Swift released her fourth fragrance Incredible Things.
Swift made her acting debut in a 2009 episode of CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, playing a rebellious teenager. The New York Times noted that the character allowed Swift to be "a little bit naughty, and credibly so". Rolling Stone felt she "held her own" and "does a good job with the script" while the Chicago Tribune said she "acquits herself well." Later that year, Swift both hosted and performed as the musical guest for an episode of Saturday Night Live. Entertainment Weekly described her as "this season's best Saturday Night Live host so far," noting that she "was always up for the challenge, seemed to be having fun, and helped the rest of the cast nail the punchlines". Proving "admirably resilient in a wide variety of sketch roles", she "inspired more of a female, girly-in-the-best-sense sensibility in SNL than it's shown since the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler days".
Swift made her feature film acting debut in the 2010 ensemble comedy Valentine's Day, playing the ditzy girlfriend of a high school jock. The Los Angeles Times felt the performance suggested "serious comedic potential" while the San Francisco Chronicle found her "very funny". Time remarked that Swift portrayed her character "rather charmingly". However, Variety found her "entirely undirected... she needs to find a skilled director to tamp her down and channel her obviously abundant energy". The Daily News described her performance as "painfully clunky" while Slant Magazine found her "unwatchable". In 2012, Swift voiced Audrey, a tree lover, in the animated film The Lorax. In 2013, she made a brief cameo on the sitcom New Girl. In 2014, she had a supporting role in the film adaptation of The Giver.
Swift's philanthropic efforts have been recognized by the Do Something Awards, The Giving Back Fund and the Tennessee Disaster Services.
In 2012, Michelle Obama presented Swift with The Big Help Award for her "dedication to helping others" and "inspiring others through action." Also that year, Kerry Kennedy of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights presented Swift with the Ripple of Hope Award because of her "dedication to advocacy at such a young age ... Taylor is just the kind of woman we want our daughters to be."
Swift is a supporter of arts education. In 2010, she donated $75,000 to Nashville's Hendersonville High School to help refurbish the school auditorium's sound and lighting systems. In 2012, she pledged $4 million to fund the building of a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The 7,500-square-foot building opened in 2014 and will facilitate new programs and workshops for teenagers and senior citizens. The space includes three classrooms and an exhibit space, and houses interactive activities such as a musical petting zoo and a "wet" classroom space to make concert posters and other art projects. Museum officials named it The Taylor Swift Education Center and the singer is involved in an advisory capacity. Also in 2012, Swift partnered with textbook rental company Chegg to donate $60,000 to the music departments of six US colleges. In 2013, Swift donated $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony.
Swift promotes children's literacy. In 2009, she donated $250,000 to various schools around the country that she had either attended or had other associations with. The money was used to buy books, fund educational programs and help pay teachers' salaries. In 2010, she took part in a live webcast, Read Now! with Taylor Swift, broadcast exclusively in US schools to celebrate Scholastic's Read Every Day campaign. In 2011, Swift donated 6,000 Scholastic books to Reading Public Library, Pennsylvania and, in 2012, she donated 14,000 books to Nashville Public Library, Tennessee. Most of the books were placed in circulation; the rest were given to children from low-income families, preschools and daycare centers. In 2012, she co-chaired the National Education Association's Read Across America campaign and recorded a PSA encouraging children to read. Also in 2012, Swift promoted the "power of reading" in a second live Scholastic webcast, broadcast directly to US classrooms. In 2013, through the Reach Out and Read initiative, she donated 2,000 Scholastic books to the Reading Hospital Child Health Center's early literacy program. In 2014, she appeared in a READ campaign and took part in another Scholastic webcast, broadcast in US classrooms. Also that year, she donated all proceeds from her song "Welcome to New York" to New York City Public Schools.
Throughout her career, Swift has donated money for helping victims of natural disasters. In 2008, she donated the proceeds from her merchandise sales at the Country Music Festival to the Red Cross's disaster relief fund. Later that year, she donated $100,000 to the Red Cross to help the victims of the Iowa flood of 2008. In 2009, Swift supported the Victorian Bushfire Appeal by joining the lineup at Sydney's Sound Relief concert, reportedly making the biggest contribution of any artist to the Australian Red Cross. In 2010, she took part in the Hope for Haiti telethon; she performed and answered phone calls from viewers wishing to donate money. She also recorded a song for the Hope for Haiti Now album. In response to the May 2010 Tennessee floods, Swift donated $500,000 during a telethon hosted by WSMV. Later that year, she donated $100,000 to help rebuild a playground in Hendersonville, Tennessee which was damaged by floodwater. In 2011, Swift used the final dress rehearsal for the North American leg of her Speak Now tour as a benefit concert for victims of recent tornadoes in the United States, raising more than $750,000. She also donated $250,000 to Alabama football coach Nick Saban's charity, Nick's Kids, to aid in the tornado relief efforts of West Alabama. In 2012, Swift supported Architecture for Humanity's Restore the Shore MTV telethon in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Swift opposes LGBT discrimination. Following the 2008 murder of Larry King, she recorded a Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network PSA to combat hate crimes. On the first anniversary of King's death, Swift told Seventeen that her parents taught her "never to judge others based on whom they love, what color their skin is, or their religion." In 2011, the music video for Swift's anti-bullying song "Mean" dealt in part with homophobia in high schools; the video was later nominated for an MTV VMA social activism award. The New York Times believes she is part of "a new wave of young (and mostly straight) women who are providing the soundtrack for a generation of gay fans coming to terms with their identity in a time of turbulent and confusing cultural messages."
The singer is involved with a number of charities which provide services to sick children. In 2008, she donated a pink Chevy pick-up truck to the Victory Junction Gang Camp; the truck is used to transport sick children from the airport to the camp. In 2011, as the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year, Swift donated $25,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Tennessee. This figure was matched by the Academy. In 2012, Swift participated in the Stand Up to Cancer telethon, performing "Ronan", a song she wrote in memory of a four-year-old boy who died of neuroblastoma. The song was made available for digital download, with all proceeds donated to cancer-related charities. In 2014, she donated $100,000 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research and $50,000 to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Swift has met with many sick fans through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She has also made private visits to hospitals such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Ronald McDonald House, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Children's Hospital & Medical Center and Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
Swift has encouraged young people to volunteer in their local community as part of Global Youth Service Day. In 2007, she launched a campaign to protect children from online predators, in partnership with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. Also in 2007, she supported an Allstate campaign which promotes safe teenage driving. In 2009, Swift recorded a Sound Matters PSA to make listeners aware of the importance of listening "responsibly." She appeared in a Got Milk? campaign in 2010. Swift has donated auctionable items to a large number of charities, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the UNICEF Tap Project, Oxfam International, Habitat for Humanity, MusiCares and Feeding America. She has also performed at a number of benefit concerts, including for the Food Bank For New York City, and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Swift purchased a four-bedroom mansion in Belle Meade, Tennessee, for her parents. Swift's younger brother, Austin, is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has acted in college productions. Swift's mother was diagnosed with cancer in December 2014. Swift is the godmother to actress Jaime King's son Leo.
Swift's main residence is a duplex penthouse in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. She also spends time at a three-bedroom cottage in Beverly Hills, California, and a duplex penthouse in Nashville, Tennessee. She owns an eight-bedroom summer home in coastal Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Swift dated musician Joe Jonas from July to October 2008, and actor Taylor Lautner from October to December 2009. She was romantically linked to musician John Mayer from late 2009 until early 2010. She dated actor Jake Gyllenhaal from October to December 2010. Following their break-up, they were seen together in January and February 2011. Swift dated political heir Conor Kennedy from July to September 2012. She dated singer Harry Styles from October 2012 to January 2013.
Swift did not date in 2013 after January, or in 2014, citing an unwillingness to deal with additional media attention. "I have this feeling like if I were to open myself up to love, that would be a career weakness."
In March 2015, Swift started dating record-producer and DJ Calvin Harris. By June 2015, the duo were ranked as the highest-paid celebrity couple over the past year by Forbes with combined earnings of over $146 million.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, she supported the Every Woman Counts campaign, aimed at engaging women in the political process, and was one of many country stars to record a public service announcement for the Vote (For Your) Country campaign. She stated: "I don't think it's my job to try and influence people which way they should vote." Following President Obama's inauguration, she told Rolling Stone that she supported the president: "I've never seen this country so happy about a political decision in my entire time of being alive. I'm so glad this was my first election."
In 2010, former U.S. President George H. W. Bush attended the taping of a Swift television special in Kennebunkport, Maine, and later described Swift as "unspoiled" and "very nice." In 2012, Swift was presented with a Kids' Choice Award in recognition of her charitable work by Michelle Obama, who praised her as someone who "has rocketed to the top of the music industry but still keeps her feet on the ground, someone who has shattered every expectation of what a 22-year-old can accomplish." Swift later described the First Lady as "a role model." In a 2012 interview, Swift remarked that, although she tries to keep herself "as educated and informed as possible," she doesn't "talk about politics because it might influence other people." Swift has spent time with the Kennedy family and has spoken of her admiration for Ethel Kennedy. Swift is also a feminist.
By the start of 2015, Swift had sold more than 40 million albums, 130 million single downloads and was one of the top five music artists with the highest worldwide digital sales. Each of Swift's studio albums had sold at least four million units in the U.S.: Taylor Swift (5.5 million), Fearless (6.9 million), Speak Now (4.5 million), Red (4.1 million) and 1989 (4.9 million).
Taylor Swift (2006)
Speak Now (2010)
2009 - Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
2009 - Hannah Montana: The Movie
2010 - Valentine's Day
2012 - The Lorax
2014 - The Giver
2009 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
2009-2015 - Saturday Night Live (four episodes)
2013 - New Girl
2014 - The Voice
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Taylor Swift in the news
|Songs by Taylor Swift|