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at least, has experienced her fair share of success in her con- tinuing six-year career. To date, her three previous albums (TAYLOR SWIFT (2006), FEARLESS (2008), SPEAK NOW (2010)) have sold a colossal 22 million copies; her songs heading towards 50 million downloads. She’s managed to clock up a whopping 112 awards and 162 nominations, including six Grammys, ten AMAs, seven CMAs, six ACMs and thirteen BMI awards to name but a few, and she’s showing no signs of sitting back yet, with the announcement of her fourth studio album RED, set to break the country-pop mould left behind by her previous records, and promises to bring forth yet more merits for America’s talented sweetheart. At twenty-two, Taylor Swift and her relatively young


career are living proof of what gutsy dedication, driven deter- mination and utter raw talent can do when you’re chasing a dream of becoming a multi-million selling country music recording artist. No matter what the knockbacks, Taylor never allows herself to become disillusioned for too long, and never shies away from embracing something new, whether it be dabbling with new genres, or finding new ways to reach her devoted fans. With long, blond curls cascading past her shoulders and

beautiful grey-blue eyes that always seem to hold a twinkle in them, young girls aspire to be like her, just as she aspired to be like her idols, Shania Twain and Faith Hill: “[Shania] came out, and she was just so strong and so independent and wrote all her own songs,” Taylor explained when asked about her biggest musical influence. “That meant so much to me, even as a 10-year-old. Just knowing that the stories she was telling in those songs—those were her stories.” Tirelessly, she works hard to identify with her ever

growing fan base through her vast appealing music and incredibly identifiable songs, which proves to be key to her dizzying success and mass appeal. Every show is a sell-out triumph, with thousands of adoring fans singing back the lyrics to her songs, word for word. But before all this, Taylor began simply as a small town

girl, harbouring an enormous talent and an even bigger dream. Her story began in the north-eastern state of Pennsylvania, just a little under twenty-three years ago. Sharing her namesake with singer-songwriter James

Taylor, Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania to Merrill Lynch financial advi- sor, Scott Kingsley Swift and former mutual fund marketing executive, Andrea Gardner Finlay. The eldest of two children (her younger brother, Austin is

two years her junior) Taylor spent the early years of her life growing up on the family’s 11-acre Christmas tree farm in Montgomery, Pennsylvania before moving to Wyomissing at the age of nine. “I wouldn’t change one thing about my child- hood,” she once said when asked about her Pennsylvanian upbringing. “We had horses and a million cats, and my brother had a huge dirt pile that we played in. Those are the memories I have of growing up in Pennsylvania, having a lot of room to run, wide open spaces.”

ince her debut in 2006, reigning CMA enter- tainer of the year Taylor Swift, undeniably one of the most successful female country-crossover artists the industry has seen in the last ten years


From an early age, Taylor’s fascination and talent for

music was very much blossoming; her opera-singing grand- mother, Marjorie Finlay providing one of her first memories of music: “…she was always singing, either around the house, or every single Sunday she’d get up and sing in front of the entire congregation at church.” Her appetite for music and the stage really kicked in,

however after the family’s move to Wyomissing several years later. Turning her attention to musical theatre, nine-year- old Taylor joined the children’s theatre group Berks Youth Theatre Academy, where she performed in such productions as Grease, Annie, Bye Bye Birdie and The Sound of Music. Regularly, she travelled to New York’s Broadway for vocal and acting coaching, but after several years of auditions in the New York Broadway circuit failed to deliver anything, she was encouraged by the academy’s manger to take the musical path instead. For the next year or so, Taylor spent her weekends per-

forming in a number of public places, including shopping malls, coffee houses, hospitals, festivals, karaoke and talent contests, and it was then, at 11-years-old, Taylor got her first big break. Singing her own rendition of LeAnn Rimes’ Big Deal, Taylor won the opportunity to perform as the open- ing act for Charlie Daniels at a Strausstown Amphitheatre. After watching a VH1 special on the multi-award winner, Faith Hill and feeling sure that her true calling in life was country music, an interest which left her both inspired and isolated during her time at middle school—although these bitter-sweet experiences provided her with useful songwrit- ing fodder—Taylor persuaded her mother to travel with her to Music City—Nashville: “Ever since I saw that TV programme…I was obsessively, obnoxiously bugging my parents every day about it until finally we planned a trip to Nashville,” she explained. “It was on spring break, and… I had this little demo CD—a karaoke CD of me singing songs by Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks and LeAnn Rimes. And I marched up and down Music Row with these demo CDs, and I’d walk in and hand them to the receptionist while my mom and my little brother were parked outside in a rental car.” Disappointingly, the response did little to encourage the

young talent, but this only made Taylor even more deter- mined to succeed. She admits that it was never about getting a record deal there and then, but much rather about being in Nashville where she considered dreams to come true, and realising that in this industry where everyone wants to be a star, you have to stand out from the crowd: “I realised that there needed to be something about me that was different. I had figured out the whole performing and singing thing.

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