Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of fourteen 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 eponymous debut album in 2006 established her as a country music star. "Our Song", her third single, made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number one song on the country 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 and was supported by an extensive concert tour. The record won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Swift's third album, 2010's Speak Now, sold over one million copies in its first week of US release and was supported by the Speak Now World Tour. The album's third single, "Mean", won two Grammy Awards. Swift's fourth album, Red, was released in 2012. Its opening US sales of 1.2 million were the highest recorded in a decade, with Swift becoming the only female artist to have two million-plus opening weeks. The singles "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble" were worldwide hits. The Red Tour is visiting worldwide venues in 2013 and 2014.
Swift is known for her narrative songs about her experiences as a teenager and young adult. 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, twelve Billboard Music Awards, fifteen American Music Awards, eleven Country Music Association Awards and six Academy of Country Music Awards. She has sold over 26 million albums and 75 million digital single downloads worldwide. Forbes estimates that she is worth over $220 million. In addition to her music career, Swift has appeared as an actress in the ensemble comedy Valentine's Day (2010) and the animated film The Lorax (2012). As a philanthropist, Swift supports arts education, children's literacy, natural disaster relief, LGBT anti-discrimination efforts, and charities for sick children.
Musical and vocal style
Swift's music contains elements of country, country pop, pop and pop rock.She self-identifies as a country artist. Rolling Stone asserts that, "she might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days." Swift's own definition of country music "is really pretty simple. It's when someone sings about their life and what they know, from an authentic place ... One guy will write about how he grew up on a farm and fell in love and raised kids on that same farm. Some people sing about how, when they get sad, they go to the bar and drink whiskey. I write songs about how I can't seem to figure out relationships and how I'm fascinated by love." She has said there will be "a huge temptation" to make an alt-country record as her career progresses. The New York Times notes 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's 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 have been described 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." Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records has conceded that Swift is "not the best technical singer" but describes 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 United States.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 ... it's not hard to imagine her running for office someday" while The Hollywood Reporter referred to 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." There has been much media commentary about Swift's surprised reactions when she is recognized at award ceremonies. Swift laughingly noted that "people make so much fun of me." Although she sometimes tries to act blasé, "it's just hard when you get excited about stuff. It's like, if you win an award, isn't that crazy? ... How do you sit there and be like 'Oh, another Grammy. I guess I'm gonna get that now'?"
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 straightens her hair. Swift favors retro style and it has been said that she has the look of "a nineteen-thirties movie siren ... red lipstick, thick mascara." She was named an Icon of American Style by Vogue in 2011. She has named Françoise Hardy, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, and Audrey Hepburn as her own style inspirations.
Swift lives between a three-bedroom duplex penthouse in Midtown Nashville, Tennessee and a three-bedroom cottage in Beverly Hills, California.She owns an eight-bedroom summer home in coastal Watch Hill, Rhode Island. In addition, Swift purchased a four-bedroom mansion in Belle Meade, Tennessee for her parents. She owns a Dassault Falcon 900 private jet and an airport hangar at Nashville International Airport.
According to Forbes's Celebrity 100 list, released annually in the month of May, Swift earned $18 million in 2009, $45 million in 2010, $45 million in 2011, $57 million in 2012 and $55 million in 2013.
Swift dated singer 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 One Direction singer Harry Styles from October 2012 to January 2013.
Musicians including Jonas and Mayer have written songs about Swift.
Awards and Nominations
Swift has been the recipient of seven Grammy Awards, fifteen American Music Awards, eleven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards, and twelve Billboard Music Awards. As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2013 she became the second person (and first woman) to receive the Country Music Association's Pinnacle Award.