Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2011

Taylor Swift:

An American Icon

 

 

Connections

 

From time-to-time I plan on presenting a Blog about
extraordinary men and women in America.
First up is a person I think is really great. She is the Nashville
talk-of-the-town and a brilliant musical talent. She is Taylor Swift. Taylor
is a totally engaging person of extraordinary beauty, and possesses a
very down to earth sweet personality. She is very popular on the concert tours and is a hard-working professional as well.

I own all three of her CDs:  Taylor Swift (2006) Fearless (2008) and Speak
Now
(2010). I find her talent as a songwriter as important as
her ability to perform on stage. What can I say? I’m a big fan of hers, have
watched her career blossom for the last five years, and I also enjoy watching her
perform periodically as an actress; she seems naturally gifted in this area of
endeavor as well.

Taylor Swift: The Early
Years

Taylor Swift was born on December
13, 1989, the only daughter of Andrea Gardner (nee Finlay), a homemaker, and
Scott Kingsley Swift, a stockbroker. Her early years were spent in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.
Her maternal grandmother, Majorie Finlay, was an opera singer. And she has a
younger brother, Austin.

Her natural talents began to
emerge early when, in fourth grade, she won a national poetry contest with a
three-page poem entitled “Monster In My Closet.” Taylor became
interested in playing the guitar at age ten. A  computer repairman showed her
how to play three chords on a guitar, sparking her interest in learning the instrument.
Afterwards, she wrote her first song, “Lucky You.” She 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 often wrote songs to express
her emotions.

Swift also started performing at karoke
contests, festivals, and fairs around her hometown. At age 12 she devoted an
entire summer to writing a 350-page novel, which remains unpublished. Her first
major show was a well-received performance at the Bloomsburg Fair. Swift
attended Hendersonville High School; she was however subsequently homeschooled
for her junior and senior years. In 2008, she earned her high-school diploma.

There have been many musical
influences on Taylor Swift. They include her greatest musical influence Shania
Twain. Her other influences include LeAnn Rimes,Tina Turner, Dolly Pardon, and
her grandmother. Although her grandmother was a professional opera singer,
Swift’s musical tastes always leaned more toward country music. In her younger
years, she developed a love for Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton. She also credits
the Dixie Chicks for demonstrating the impact you can make by “stretching
boundaries.”

Musical
Career Launched Early

At age 11, Swift made her first
trip to Nashville, hoping to obtain a record deal by distributing a demo tape
of her singing with karaoke songs. She gave a copy to every label in town, but
was rejected.

When Swift returned to Pennsylvania,
she was asked to sing at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, where her rendition
of the national anthem received much attention. Swift started writing songs and
playing 12-string guitar when she was 12. Swift began to regularly visit
Nashville and wrote songs with local songwriters. By the time she was 14, her
family decided to move to an outlying Nashville suburb.

When Swift was 15, she rejected RCA
Records because the company wanted to keep her on an artist development deal.
After performing at Nashville’s songwriters’ venue, The Bluebird Cafe,
she caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, who signed her to his newly formed
record label, Big Machine Records. At age 14, she became the youngest staff
songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house.

2006–08:
Taylor Swift

Swift released her debut single,
“Tim McGraw”, in mid-2006, reaching #6 on Billboard magazine’s Hot
Country Songs chart. Her self-titled debut album was later released on October
24, 2006. This album debuted high on the Billboard 200, the album sold 39,000
copies during its first week. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top Country
Albums and #5 on the Billboard 200.

Her debut album spent eight consecutive weeks
at the top of the Top Country Albums charts and remained at the top for 24 out
of 91 weeks. The only other country artists this decade to achieve the
number-one sales position for 20 weeks or more are The Dixie Chicks and Carrie
Underwood.

The music video for “Tim
McGraw” won Swift an award for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the 2007
CMT Music Awards.  Her pursuit of country
music stardom was the subject of “GAC Short Cuts”, a
part-documentary, part-music-video series airing since the summer of 2006. On
May 15, 2007, Swift performed “Tim McGraw” at the Academy of Country
Music Awards. Swift has been an opening act for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on
their Soul2Soul 2007 tour. She has opened in the past for George Strait, Brad
Paisley and Rascal Flatts as well.

The second single from the Taylor
Swift
album, “Teardrops on My Guitar”, was released February 24, 2007. In
mid-2007, the song peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart
and #33 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was re-released with a pop remix
that brought “Teardrops on My Guitar” to #13 on the Hot 100 and #11
on the Pop 100. In October 2007, Swift was awarded Songwriter/Artist of the Year
by the Nashville Songwriters Assn. Intl., making her the youngest artist ever
to win the award.

Her third song off her debut
album, “Our Song” spent six weeks at #1 on the Country charts, peaked
at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100, and rose to #24 on the Billboard
Pop 100. Swift recorded a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift
Holiday Collection, which was released exclusively at Target in late
2007. Swift was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best New
Artist, but lost to Amy Winehouse. Swift’s successful single, Picture to Burn,
was the fourth single from her debut album. The song debuted and soon peaked at
#3 on the Billboard Country chart in spring 2008.

“Should’ve Said No”
became Swift’s second #1 single. In Summer 2008, Swift released Beautiful Eyes,
an EP sold exclusively at WalMart In its first week of release, the album sold
45,000 copies, debuting at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart
and #9 on the Billboard 200. With her self-titled debut album sitting at
#2 during the same week, Swift became the first artist since 1997 to hold the
Top 2 positions of the Top Country Albums chart. In October 2008, Swift
performed a duet with best selling rock band Def
Leppard in a taped show in Nashville, Tennessee, and their collaboration was up
for both Performance of the Year and Wide Open Country Video of the Year at the
CMT Music Awards in 2009.

Acting

In 2008, Swift made her acting
debut in Brad Paisley’s music video Online. In that same year Swift filmed a
documentary for MTV entitled MTV’s Once Upon a Prom and a documentary
with Def Leppard for CMT entitled CMT Crossroads, which premiered on
November 7, 2008. Swift collaborated with the Jonas Brothers in their 3D
Concert Film, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. The film was released
on February 27, 2009 in North America and brought in $12.7 million on its
opening weekend. Swift made her primetime television acting debut on CBS’s CSI:
Crime Scene Investigation Turn, Turn, Turn as Haley Jones on March 5, 2009 in
the U.S. and Canada. The episode was watched by 20.8 million viewers.

Swift made a cameo appearance in Kellie
Pickler’s music video Best Days of Your Life. Swift also appeared in Hannah
Montana: The Movie credited as “woman singing in the barn”. The film was
released on April 10, 2009 in North America. The television show Dateline NBA showcased
an hour on Swift on May 31, 2009. The episode titled Dateline NBC: On Tour
With Taylor Swift
included scenes from her tour bus, concert footage, and
rehearsals. Swift both hosted and performed as the musical guest for the
November 7, 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live. In 2010, Swift made her
feature film acting debut as Felicia in the film Valentine’s Day. For this role
she won the Teen Choice Award for Movie Female Breakout.

Cover
model and recognition

Swift has been featured on the
cover of a number of magazines. She has been a cover girl for Blender, for
which she was one of two country artists during the magazine’s fifteen year run
to be a cover subject. She was included in People’s annual “100 Most
Beautiful People” 2008, 2009, and 2010 lists. Additionally, she was named
number fifty-seven on Maxim’s sexiest women of 2008, number fifty on the
2009 list and number thirty-one on the 2010 list. CosmoGirl voted Swift as the
“2008 Girl of the Year”. Swift was named by Rolling Stone magazine as
one of “The RS 100: Agents of Change”. She was nominated as a
candidate for Time’s “2009 The Time 100 Finalists” list, which is
determined by online voting. People magazine named Swift one of 25 Most
Intriguing People of 2009.

Songwriting
style

Swift’s lyrics are highly
autobiographical; she has said that “If you listen to my albums, it’s like
reading my diary.” For instance the song “Forever & Always”
was inspired by her relationship with Joe Jonas, while the song “Hey
Stephen” was written about a guy who opened some shows for her.
“Fifteen” was written about her freshman year of high school. It has
been said that her lyrics “can be tinged with acid: the quiet loner girl
getting one over on the cheerleaders, or a caustic payback for the boy who
dumped her.” She’s also indicated that she tries to write so her fans can
relate to the lyrics, saying “My goal is to never write songs that my fans
can’t relate to.”

The intensely personal nature of
the songs has drawn her the most attention. Swift once said, “I thought
people might find them hard to relate to, but it turned out that the more
personal my songs were, the more closely people could relate to them.”

The autobiographical nature of
her songs has led some fans to research the songs’ origins. Swift once said,
“Every single one of the guys that I’ve written songs about has been
tracked down on MySpace by my fans.” The New York Times described Swift as
“one of pop’s finest songwriters, country’s foremost pragmatist and more
in touch with her inner life than most adults”.

Personal
life

In 2008, Swift was in a
relationship with pop singer Joe Jonas which ended in November of that year.
Swift indicated that her heartbreak song, “Forever & Always”, on
her album Fearless was inspired by Jonas.

In 2009, she referenced the
rumors that she was dating Taylor Lautner during her monologue while hosting Saturday
Night Live. The song “Back To December” off her album Speak Now,
which Swift has described as an apology song, has been widely speculated to be
dedicated to Lautner.

In late 2010, Taylor Swift began
dating Jake Gyllenhaal.

Philanthropy

On September 21, 2007, Swift
helped launch a campaign to protect children from online predators. She has
teamed up with Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen to combat internet sex crimes.
The year-long campaign, in partnership with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs
of Police, will distribute Internet safety information and materials to parents
and students across the state. In early 2008, Swift donated the pink Chevy
pick-up truck given to her by her record label to the children’s charity, the Victory
Junction Gang
; in June, 2008, Swift donated all the proceeds from her
merchandise sales at the 2008 Country Music Festival to Red Cross, the Nashville
Area Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund
and the National American Red Cross
Disaster Relief Fund
.

Swift donated $100,000 to the Red
Cross in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to help the victims of the Iowa flood of 2008.
Swift has teamed up with Sound Matters to make listeners aware of listening
“responsibly”. Swift supports @15, a teen-led social change platform
underwritten by Best Buy to give teens opportunities to direct the company’s
philanthropy through the newly-created @15 Fund. Swift’s song, “Fifteen”,
is featured in this campaign. Swift lent her support to the Victorian Bushfire
Appeal by joining the lineup at Sydney’s Sound Relief concert, reportedly
making the biggest contribution of any artist playing at Sound Relief to the
Australian Red Cross. Swift donated her prom dress, which raised $1,200 for
charity, to DonateMyDress.org. On November 20, 2009 after a live performance on
BBC’s Children in Need night Swift announced to Sir Terrry Wogan she would
donate £13,000 of her own money to the cause.

On December 13, Swift’s own
birthday, she donated $250,000 to various schools around the country which she
had either attended or been involved with. Taylor Swift has donated a pair of
her shoes – a gently-worn pair of black Betsey Johnson heels with her autograph
on the sole – to the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation’s Hero in Heels fundraiser for
auction to raise money to benefit women with cancer.

In response to the May 2010
Tennessee floods, Swift donated $500,000 during a flood relief telethon hosted
by WSMV, a Nashville television station.

 

POST SCRIPT

 

 

One day in 2050 there will be a public national survey to
determine the most influential, extraordinary women in
America
during the first half of the 21st Century. These will be the women
who have made the greatest impact on our culture and society. It is my fondest
hope that Taylor Swift will be on that list. And, a lot of the credit for the
kind of person she is today can probably be attributed to her parents and her
experiences of growing up in a very supportive, loving family. These are the
people who, during her formative years, nurtured her personality and all her manifest
creative talents we see today.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »