Origins: Pennsylvania, USA
Genres: Pop Music, Country Music
Years Active: 2006 - Present
Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Taylor Swift made a splash in the country music world in 2006 and has gone on to become one of the top acts in popular music.
Born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania, Taylor Swift was earning renown as a country music singer by the age of 16. Early hits like "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me" appealed to country and pop fans alike and helped fuel the multi-platinum success of her albums, including the Grammy-winning Fearless(2008). Swift continued to top the charts with her 2014 studio effort 1989, which featured the No. 1 singles "Shake it Off" and "Blank Space" and won Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
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 went on to sell more than 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 (ACM) Award for Top New Female Vocalist in 2007. Swift next released Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection that year. Her renditions of "Silent Night" and "Santa Baby" were modest hits on the country charts.
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 2009 CMT Music Awards. That year Swift also won the MTV Video Music Award's Best Female Video, for "You Belong With Me," making her the first country music star to earn a VMA. The win stirred controversy when rapper Kanye West leapt to the stage during Swift's speech, took the microphone and declared that R&B singer Beyonce 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.
Swift was ranked Forbes magazine's highest paid celebrity under 30 in 2012, beating out Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Lady Gaga with earnings of $57 million. The following year, the musician shared some of her fortune to help others, funding the $4 million Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The facility opened with three classrooms, a learning lab and a space dedicated to exhibits for children. In an interview, 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 the 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 honoured 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. 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, as she picked up the AMA Award for Artist of the Year for the third consecutive time, among other wins.