Taylor Swift Biography

Songwriter, Singer(1989–)
Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Taylor Swift is one of pop's top recording artists, having had roots in the world of country music.

Synopsis

Born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania, Taylor Swift's family moved to nearby Wyomissing where she started crafting songs at age 5, and at age 16, released her debut album. Hits like "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me" appealed to country and pop fans alike and helped fuel the multiplatinum success of her albums, with Fearless the 2009 top-seller. Swift later became a pop juggernaut with the 2014 album 1989. She has won many awards, including several Grammys, and modeled for Cover Girl.  

Early Life and Career

Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. Swift spent her early years on her family's Christmas tree farm in nearby Wyomissing. Her grandmother had been a professional opera singer, and Swift soon followed in her footsteps. By the age of 10, Swift was singing at a variety of local events, including fairs and contests. She sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a Philadelphia 76ers game at the age of 11, and began writing her own songs and learning guitar at 12 years old.

To pursue her music career, Swift often visited Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital. There she co-wrote songs and tried to land a recording contract. Noting her dedication, Swift and her family moved to nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee, in an attempt to further Swift's career.

Country Crooner

A stellar performance at The Bluebird Café in Nashville helped Swift get a contract with Scott Borchetta's Big Machine Records. She released her first single, "Tim McGraw," in 2006, and the song became a Top 10 hit on the country charts. It also appeared on her self-titled debut album in October of that same year, which sold more than 2.5 million copies. More popular singles soon followed, including "Our Song," a No. 1 country music hit. "Teardrops on My Guitar," "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No" were also successful tracks.

Swift also received critical praise for her debut effort. She won the Horizon Award from the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Female Vocalist in 2007. Swift next released Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection in 2007. Her renditions of "Silent Night" and "Santa Baby" were modest hits on the country charts.

'Fearless'

In 2008, Swift was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category and won other accolades, including the Academy of Country Music's Female Vocalist of the Year award. Around this same time, Swift released her next album, Fearless (2008), which hit the top of both the country and pop charts and stayed there for 11 weeks. By the end of the year, Swift had become the highest-selling country artist of 2008.

2009 Video Music Awards

In 2009, Swift netted several awards for her work on Fearless, including Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year for "Love Story" at the CMT Music Awards. On September 13, 2009, Swift also won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video, making her the first country music star to win an MTV Video Music Award. The win stirred controversy when rapper Kanye West leaped to the stage during Swift's speech, took the microphone, and declared that R&B singer Beyoncé should have won Swift's award.

The stunned Swift was unable to make her acceptance speech, and West was removed from the show. When Beyoncé accepted her award for Best Video of the Year later in the show, she called Swift to the stage to finish her speech. West later apologized to Swift privately, and made a public apology on The Jay Leno Show.

Major Success

Swift soon became an even hotter commodity. Her concert tickets began selling out in less than two minutes, and she also made her second appearance on comedy show Saturday Night Live, this time as both the host and musical guest. Additionally, she became the youngest artist to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2010 for Fearless.

In 2010, she released the album Speak Now, which featured the hit songs "Mean," "Ours" and "Sparks Fly." The album was a success, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling more than one million copies in its first week. She followed that album with Red (2012), featuring the hit single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and also selling more than one million copies in its first week. With her fifth album 1989, Swift became the first woman in history to release three albums that sold more than one million copies in their opening week.

She was ranked No. 1 as Forbes magazine's highest paid celebrity under 30 in 2012, beating out Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Lady Gaga with a salary of $57 million. She has also been tapped for four CMA nominations in 2009—Female Vocalist, Music Video of the Year, Best Album and Entertainer of the Year—as well as six American Music Award nominations.

The following year, Swift shared some of her fortune to help others. She funded the $4 million Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The facility has three classrooms, a learning lab and a space dedicated to exhibits for children. In an interview with CMT Hot 20 Countdown, she explained that "music education is really such an important part of my life. My life changed so completely when I discovered writing my own songs and playing guitar, and that can't necessarily all be taught to you in school because there aren't enough hours in the day."

In 2013, Swift was also honored with the CMA Pinnacle Award for her achievements as a country music performer and for her "positive impact" on country music, according to the CMA website. And she picked up two other wins for her collaboration with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban at the CMA Awards ceremony held that November. Swift's winning streak continued at the American Music Awards. For the third year in a row, she picked up the AMA Award for Artist of the Year, among other wins.

Grammy-Winning '1989'

With her next effort, Swift seemed to step further away from her country music roots. She released 1989, her most pop-sounding record to date, in October 2014. "Shake It Off" proved to be one of the catchiest tracks of the year, reaching the top of the pop charts. Swift continued to play with her public persona with the track "Bad Blood," which features Kendrick Lamar. In the video for the song, which debuted at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards and doubles as a noir action short, she appears as a tough, cutthroat character called "Catastrophe." Swift recruited a number of top names to appear in the video as well, including Karlie Kloss, Cindy Crawford and Lena Dunham. In an age of low album sales, 1989 has gone on to move more than five million copies in the U.S. alone.

In February 2016, Swift opened up the 58th Annual Grammy Awards with another track from 1989, "Out of the Woods." Having received awards pre-telecast for Best Music Video and Best Pop Vocal Album, later in the evening Swift won another Grammy for Album of the Year, making music history as the first woman to win the award twice. 

In what was seen as a sharp rebuke to a new Kanye West song in which he took credit for her fame, Swift used her acceptance speech to issue an empowerment statement. "I wanna say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame," she said. "But if you just focus on the work, and you don't let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you're going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who loved you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world."

Romantic Relationships

During much of 2008, reports circulated that Swift was dating Joe Jonas from the popular musical group The Jonas Brothers. Neither Swift nor Jonas has ever acknowledged the relationship. "He's an amazing guy, and anyone would be lucky to be dating him," Swift said at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. Whatever their relationship, it seemed to turn sour by the time Fearless was released. The song, "Forever & Always," is reportedly about Jonas.

Swift was then romantically linked to actor Taylor Lautner, one of the stars of the successful Twilight saga. The pair reportedly met while filming Swift's big screen debut Valentine's Day, which hit theaters in February 2010. Unfortunately, the couple didn't make it long enough to see the premiere as a couple, having broken up in late 2009. Swift then dated singer John Mayer for a brief period, which ended on bad terms when she wrote the tell-all song entitled "Dear John" about the womanizer. 

From there, Swift was romantically linked to Glee star Cory Monteith and Jake Gyllenhaal in 2010, and Conor Kennedy—son of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—in 2012. She dated another celebrity at the tail-end of 2012, bringing in the new year with One Direction's Harry Styles, but the relationship ended in 2013. In 2015, Swift dated Calvin Harris, a music producer, DJ and singer, however, the couple reportedly broke up in June 2016. Shortly thereafter, Swift began dating actor Tom Hiddleston, 35, but the couple split three months later.

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