Taylor Alison Swift was born in Wyomissing, a borough in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Her parents are stockbroker Scott Swift, and homemaker Andrea Swift (né Finlay). Taylor also has a younger brother Austin. In an interview with the Washington Post she described her mom as her "best friend" and her dad as "just a big teddy bear who tells me that everything I do is perfect." Her parents indulged her interest in country music and took her to visit Nashville when she was 11. On this trip, Taylor went into record companies and handed out demo CDs of her singing Karaoke versions of country classics.
When Taylor was 10 and in fourth grade she won a national poetry contest with a three-page poem, Monster In My Closet.
Taylor was performing before she reached her teens at karaoke contests, festivals, and fairs around Wyomissing. When she was 11, Taylor performed the national anthem at a Philadelphia 76ers game.
She signed a development deal with RCA Records when she was 14, but they pushed her to record songs written by other writers. When the contract ended after a year, she made the very bold decision to leave the label, as she was intent on performing her own songs.
When Taylor was 12, she devoted an entire summer to writing a 350-page novel, which remains unpublished.
At the age of 12, the family's computer repairman showed Taylor how to play three chords on a guitar, sparking her interest in learning the instrument. Afterwards, Swift wrote her first song, "Lucky You."
Taylor began writing songs regularly and used it as an outlet to help her with her pain from not fitting in at school. She was a victim of bullying, and spent her time writing songs to express her emotions. One of the first tunes Taylor wrote was "The Outside
," which she said talks about the very reason she ever started to write songs. She explained: "I was a lot different than all the other kids, and I never really knew why. I was taller, and sang country music at karaoke bars and festivals on weekends while other girls went to sleepovers. Some days I woke up not knowing if anyone was going to talk to me that day."
Taylor's family relocated to Nashville, Tennessee when she was 14 so that she could pursue a career in country music. She attended Aaron Academy, a Christian high school in Hendersonville, Tennessee, which also offers a home schooling program, and graduated in July 2008.
Swift credits LeAnn Rimes as her main influence in her country music career. She stated on The Oprah Winfrey Show
that she wanted to be a country singer after attending one of the How Do I Live
star's concerts. Before Taylor, Rimes was the previous teenager to make it big in country music. Other music influences include Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline, and Taylor's maternal grandmother, Majorie Finlay, who was an opera singer.
After performing at Nashville's songwriters' venue, The Bluebird Café, Taylor caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, who signed her to his newly formed record label, Big Machine Records. She released her debut single, "Tim McGraw
," in mid-2006. The song reached #40 on the Hot 100.
Taylor released her self-titled debut album in 2007 at the age of 17. The record topped the country chart for 24 non-consecutive weeks. As a result of its success Swift became the first female solo artist to write or co-write every song on a platinum-selling debut album.
When "Love Song
" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart on the chart week of December 22, 2007, Swift became the youngest performer ever to write and sing a chart-topping country single.
Swift's lyrics are highly autobiographical and several of her songs details various crushes and relationships she had. They include:"Teardrops On My Guitar" which was written for a boy named Drew Hardwick, who only ever saw her as a friend, despite Taylor having feelings for him.
"Forever and Always
," about the breakup of Swift's relationship with Joe Jonas.
"Back To December
,"in which Swift apologises for the way she messed up a relationship with a former boyfriend. Most believe the song is referring to American actor Taylor Lautner, whom she dated briefly at the end of 2009.
," which is believed to be addressed to rock musician John Mayer, with whom Taylor recorded "Half Of My Heart
" in 2009. Reports were circulated that the pair were dating for a short period after they worked on the track.
," describes Taylor's unrealized crush on Owl City's Adam Young.
Taylor's best friend is Abigail Anderson, with whom she's been friends since their freshman year in high school. Swift told The Los Angeles Times
that for most of their time in high school, the two friends thought of themselves as ugly ducklings. She explained: "We kind of came to the conclusion in ninth grade that we were never going to be popular, so we should just stick together and have fun and not take ourselves too seriously. That's why I had so much fun in high school, because I didn't focus too much on the fact that I wasn't really in the clique." She sings about their friendship on the song "Fifteen
Swift's mother usually accompanies her daughter while she's on tour. Taylor wrote the song "The Best Day
as a love letter to her mom but had to drop the song from her setlist as Andrea would burst into tears backstage every time she heard it.
Here are some of Taylor Swift's Favorite Things:
Quilts - "But that's probably because I'm always freezing cold."
Christmas - Taylor has a Christmas-themed birthday party every year.
Baking and cooking - "I love picking up a cookbook and closing my eyes and opening it to a random page, then attempting to make that recipe."
Bright colors - She has a collection of ribbons and headbands.
Her favorite song is "Can't Tell Me Nothin'" by Tim McGraw
Taylor loves CSI and has seen every episode. She has claimed that she would want to be a forensic detective if she weren't in the music industry.
Outside of her own videos, Taylor made her acting debut in Brad Paisley's 2008 visual for "Online
Swift made her primetime television acting debut on CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
, March 5, 2009 episode "Turn, Turn, Turn" as Haley Jones.
Taylor made her movie acting debut in the romantic comedy Valentine's Day
, where she played Felicia. The country-pop singer wrote the song , "Today Was a Fairy Tale
" for the film.
The singer has a fascination with fairy tales and a number of her songs, such as "Today Was a Fairytale," "Love Story
" and "White Horse
" feature boy-meets-girl lyrics utilizing a fairy tale metaphor.
She has likened her albums to "reading my diary." During her acceptance speech at the 44th CMA Awards, Swift said regarding her autobiographical writing style: "I think a lot of people who know me know that if I talk to you for more than five minutes, I'm probably going to write a song about you, so, that being said, I'd like to thank all the characters in my songs: Abigail, Hey Stephen, Tim McGraw and Romeo."
During the 2009 VMA Awards, as Swift was on stage accepting the award for Best Female Video, Kanye West came on stage and grabbed the microphone from her, and protested Beyoncé should have won the award, rather than her. Though upset, Swift gained a good deal of support sympathy for her gracious response to the affair. Her song "Innocent
" was inspired by the incident.
By 2015, the pair had made nice, and Swift presented the MTV Video Vanguard Award to West, poking fun at the 2009 incident before announcing him as "my friend, Kanye West."
In July 2009 Taylor moved out of her family home into a $1.9 million condo in Nashville. Her song "Never Grow Up
" is partly about the singer feeling alone as she spends her first night in her new apartment.
Since that purchase, Swift added a number of properties to her real estate portfolio, including a mansion in Beverly Hills and an estate in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
At the 2009 CMAs, Swift was awarded Entertainer of the Year. In doing so, she became the youngest winner of the association's highest honor.
The sales of Speak Now, Taylor's third album, represented 18% of all albums sold in it's debut week, the highest first-week market share since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking US music sales in 1991.
She set up her own management company and acts as her own manager, which is rare for such a big artist. She spends a lot of time in meetings doing things like approving videos and artwork.
Much of Taylor's empire is built on fan access. She dedicated an hour before every show for a meet and greet, and her team picks out enthusiastic fans during the show to join her backstage after the concert. When it comes to social media, she is a model of success, constantly posting status updates and videos to keep her fan base engaged.
She has stayed remarkably scandal-free, endearing her to the parents of many of her younger fans. She admits that she is a role model, telling 60 Minutes in her 2011 interview: "The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation. So make your words count."
Swift is obsessed with detective shows. She admitted to The Sun in a 2013 interview that the hours she's spent watching box-sets has convinced her that if her music career hit the skids, she'd pursue an alternative career as a police detective. "I'd be an interior designer or a detective – but I don't think I'd be a very good detective," she said. "I just watch all of those crime shows. Anything that has a slight premise of being a crime show. I'm on it. I have so many box-sets – I'm into Criminal Minds at the moment, and Law and Order, and CSI. I've never seen The Wire but I'll get into that next."
Taylor Swift wears contact lenses in public. The frames from her "You Belong With Me
" video aren't the ones she wears regularly at home.
Swift was the first Saturday Night Live host to ever write her own monologue. It was a tune called "My Monologue Song" that included jabs at Joe Jonas and Kanye West.
Speak Now shifted 1.047 million units the week ending November 13, 2010; Red sold 1.208 million on week ending November 10, 2012; and 1989 notched 1.287 million on week ending November 15, 2014. This meant that Swift became the first act to achieve three million-selling weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991.
Taylor Swift earned her first Emmy when it was announced she was the 2015 winner for Original Interactive Program for her AMEX Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience. The singer was an executive producer on the project.
She became a victim of "cancel culture" in 2016 when she got in a beef with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
and the hashtag #TaylorSwiftIsCanceled started trending. It made her feel isolated and diminished, so she spoke out against it, calling it a form of bullying. Her song "You Need To Calm Down
" is based on the experience.
Her debut album is the only one that didn't go to #1 in America. Swift's album releases are very well orchestrated and typically launched with elaborate promotional campaigns, but when he issued her eighth album, Folklore, on July 24, 2020, it was during the coronavirus pandemic so she did it with no advance fanfare, giving fans just 24 hours notice. It still debuted at #1.
She got the documentary treatment when Miss Americana was released on Netflix in 2020. A big moment in the film is when Swift hits send on her first political social media post, endorsing Democratic candidates for the House and Senate in 2018 (both lost). Leading up to it, we see her handlers trying to convince her to keep her politics to herself.