Taylor Swift – Through the Years
Taylor Swift turned 28 this month, so let’s celebrate her life and career with a Through the Years pictorial! Although she’s still super young, Taylor has certainly spent a lot of time in the spotlight. Swift fans have literally had the pleasure of watching her grow up right before our very eyes. From her debut country album “Taylor Swift” at the tender age of only 16, to 2017’s more mainstream “Reputation” – we have witnessed the pop icon go through many changes in both look and musical style. So, let’s take a look back at Taylor’s rise to the top!
Young Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania to parents Scott and Andrea Swift. It is reported that she grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Cumru Township, Pennsylvania and the family spent most summers at their vacation home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
At around the age of 8, the Swift family moved to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania and Taylor was enrolled in West Reading Elementary Center. Taylor grew up around horses and one of her first hobbies was horse riding, where she eventually ended up competing in horse shows.
Around age 9, Taylor started to get interested in music. Swift was in musical theater programs at school and performed in numerous productions at Berks Youth Theatre Academy including “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Annie.” She soon began traveling to New York City for vocal and acting lessons, where unfortunately, she became discouraged after numerous unrecognized auditions on Broadway.
By age 10, Taylor was getting serious about her music career. She had the family hopping from festivals, fairs and karaoke contests so she could perform. At age 11, Taylor had her musical debut, singing the National Anthem at a Philadelphia 76ers game.
A short time later, still at the age of only 11, Taylor won a local talent contest by singing a rendition of LeAnn Rimes’s “Big Deal.” That win afforded Taylor the opportunity to appear as the opening act for Charlie Daniels at an amphitheater near Strausstown.
Getting a taste of the spotlight, Taylor was now set on making a name for herself in the country music business. Still only 11-years-old, Taylor and her mother packed up and went to the country music capital in Nashville, Tennessee to submit a demo of herself signing covers of Dixie Chicks and Dolly Parton songs.
Taylor Swift – High School Years
At the age of 14, Swift’s father put in for a work transfer and the entire family moved from Pennsylvania to Nashville, Tennessee and Taylor began to get serious about her music career.
Taylor soon signed an artist development deal with RCA Records and began teaming up with experienced songwriters to help develop her ideas. This is where she developed a lasting relationship with RCA songwriter Liz Rose and the pair began meeting after school to work on song ideas.
Moving to Nashville also meant enrolling in a new school. Taylor was placed in Hendersonville High School where she didn’t have the easiest time making friends. “I was the girl who didn’t get invited to parties. My friends turned into the girls who stood in the corner and talked about me,” Swift was quoted saying. This only served as fuel for Taylor’s song inspiration.
At the age of 15, Taylor made the decision to leave RCA Records. RCA apparently wanted her to be a songwriter for other artists until she turned 18 and she didn’t like that idea. She also fired her management team at this time. Feeling like she was starting from scratch, Taylor went back to performing constantly anywhere she could, hoping someone would recognize her talent. Her luck sparked when Scott Borchetta, a DreamWorks Records executive, saw her performance at Bluebird Cafe in Nashville when she was still only 15 years of age. Borchetta was in the process of forming his own record label, Big Machine Records, and signed Taylor in September of 2005
Soon after signing her record deal with Borchetta, Swift began work on her debut album. And, in 2006, at the age of just 16, Swift released her first single “Tim McGraw” after the country music icon. The song was inspired by Swift’s freshmen year boyfriend and peaked at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 6 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. Later, in October of 2006, her debut album “Taylor Swift” was released. The album featured 11 songs and debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200. By the second month, Taylor’s debut album climbed to number 5 on the 200 list and eventually became the longest staying album on the Billboard 200 of any album released that decade.
While still in high school, Taylor got to promote her album by going on tour as the opening act for country stars George Strait, Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw. Swift also sent the album to radio stations and promoted it herself on social media channels. Then, in 2007, it was back to the recording studio to work on a holiday album – “Sound of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection” and then she released an EP in 2008 titled “Beautiful Eyes.”
Starting to Take Off
Later in 2008, Swift really started taking off, winning the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award for Best New Artist, the American Music Award for Favorite Country Female Artist honor, and the Academy of Country Music Award’s Top New Female Vocalist awards. Taylor was also nominated for her first Grammy Award for Best New Artist but ultimately lost to Any Winehouse.
In September 2008, still at the age of 18, Taylor released the single “Love Story” – which would go on to become the #2 best-selling country single of all time and peak at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She had four more singles released as part of her second album, “Fearless,” released in November 2008. The single “You Belong with Me” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Album chart, with sales of 592,304. Worldwide sales of the album eventually hit 8.6 million copies, making it the top selling album of 2009.
After the success of Fearless, fame and awards began rolling in. Taylor became the first country music artist to win an MTV VMA for Best Female Video in 2009 and in early 2010, Swift took home four Grammy Awards out of a total eight nominations. She also became the youngest artist to ever win Album of the Year for Fearless and during this time frame, Taylor was regularly included in Time’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People.
#1 on Billboard 200 Charts
In October 2010, Taylor released her third album “Speak Now,” which featured 14 songs written entirely by Taylor herself. Speak Now became her most successful album to date, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart with opening sales of 1,047,000 copies. This was only the 16th album in American history to sell one million copies in a single week. Taylor bagged another two Grammy Awards in 2010 and at just 21 years of age, she was named Billboard’s 2011 Woman of the Year!
Two years after Speak Now, in 2012, Taylor released her fourth studio album “Red.” The breakout single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” became her first #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Red also debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with more than 1.21 million copies sold in the first week and more than 26+ million albums and 75 million song total downloads.
Moving Away from Country Roots
Taylor released her fifth studio album “1989” in October 2014. With only a few short months left in the year, 1989 became the highest selling album of 2014. With pop songs like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space,” Taylor received some criticism for abandoning her country music roots. Still, even with the criticism, the album debuted #1 on the billboard 200 and sold more than 1.28 million copies.
Taylor Swift spent much of 2015 traveling the globe on her “The 1989 World Tour.” The tour was in support of 2014’s 1989 album which had three singles – Shake It Off, Blank Space, and Bad Blood – top the Billboard 100 chart. The album also earned Swift a Grammy for Album of the Year.
Swift received awards for Album of the Year and Best Pop Album for “1989” and Best Music Video for “Bad Blood” at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards on February 15, 2016.
Taylor released her sixth studio album “Reputation” on November 10, 2017 with the singles “Look What You Made Me Do” and “…Ready for It?” reaching #s 1 and 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
To date, Swift so far is a seven-time Grammy Award winner, the best-selling digital music artist of all time, and the one and only female artist in history to have an album hit one million first-week sales figure three total times.