Taylor Swift Profile and Biography

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift. Photo by Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

Birth and Early Musical Career

Taylor Swift was born December 13, 1989 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. She learned to play guitar as a child and began writing songs at the age of 10. With strong influences from Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks, Taylor Swift took her songs to Nashville at the age of 11 seeking a record deal but was rejected. She began to seek out connections with other musicians and regularly visited Nashville until at the age of 14 her family moved to the Nashville area.

She soon caught the attention of music industry veteran Scott Borchetta at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe who signed Taylor Swift to his newly formed record label Big Machine Records.

Taylor Swift's Debut Self-Titled Album

Taylor Swift's first single "Tim McGraw" was released in 2006 when she was 16, and it went to #6 on the country chart. It also barely scraped the bottom end of the pop top 40. The single was followed by the release of Taylor Swift's self-titled debut album which went to #1 on the country album chart and #5 on the pop chart. It included Taylor Swift's second single "Teardrops On My Guitar" which rose clear to #13 on the pop singles chart with the assistance of a pop-oriented remix for radio. The album generated three more top 40 pop singles on the way to being certified four times platinum for sales.

Crossover on the Pop Charts

The crossover of "Teardrops On My Guitar" into the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100 identified Taylor Swift as a country artist that could have appeal for pop audiences similar to her idol Shania Twain.

A nomination for the Best New Artist Grammy Award also helped bring her to the attention of a wider range of pop music fans. As a teenager, Taylor Swift picked up natural appeal to teen pop audiences with her straightforward, highly melodic, autobiographical songs.

Fearless

In November 2008 Taylor Swift's second album Fearless hit stores.

It went straight to #1 on pop and country album charts. The first single "Love Story" became a true pop breakthrough landing at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was followed later by "You Belong With Me" which climbed to #2 receiving strong pop radio airplay. Ultimately Fearless became the bestselling album of the year for 2009. 13 different songs from the album landed inside the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. That was an all-time record for any album.

Taylor Swift's Top Pop Hits

  • 2007 - "Teardrops On My Guitar" #13
  • 2008 - "Love Story" #4
  • 2008 - "Change" #10
  • 2009 - "You Belong With Me" #2
  • 2010 - "Fearless" #9
  • 2010 - "Today Was a Fairytale" #2
  • 2010 - "Mine" #3
  • 2010 - "Back To December" #6
  • 2012 - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" #1
  • 2012 - "Begin Again" #7
  • 2012 - "I Knew You Were Trouble" #2
  • 2013 - "Red" #6
  • 2014 - "Shake It Off" #1
  • 2014 - "Blank Space" #1
  • 2015 - "Style" #6
  • 2015 - "Bad Blood" #1
  • 2015 - "Wildest Dreams #5

Taylor Swift's Awards Controversies

In the fall of 2009, Taylor Swift was picked as the surprise winner of Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards. Her acceptance speech was interrupted by Kanye West who claimed that Beyonce was more deserving of the award. He was roundly criticized for the interruption and later issued public apologies.

In early 2010 another award generated controversy. After Fearless received the 2010 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, public criticism began after she delivered a relatively lackluster live performance at the event. Many felt that Taylor Swift was not deserving of an accolade like Album of the Year.

Speak Now

Taylor Swift's third studio album Speak Now was released in October 2010. With momentum generated by the #3 charting hit single "Mine," the album became Taylor Swift's first to sell more than one million copies in its first week of release. Selling nearly three million copies in just over two months, Speak Now was the third biggest selling album of 2010 overall. All fourteen regular tracks and three bonus tracks from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100.  Speak Now was the first album to place a total of 17 songs on the chart.

Taylor Swift won Grammy Awards for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for the album's song "Mean."

Red

Two years later Taylor Swift repeated her million selling success with the release of Red. This time the album was preceded by her first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." The song moved away from her country background with production and songwriting assistance from Sweden's Max Martin. Red sold a total of 1.21 million copies in its first week, the second highest total for a female artist behind only Britney Spears and her album Oops!...I Did It Again in 2000. Red sold over three million copies by the end of 2012 making it the second biggest selling album of the year. "I Knew You Were Trouble" was a second huge hit single from Red peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and selling over five million copies. Red received Grammy Award nominations for Album of the Year and Best Country Album. 

1989

Taylor Swift kicked off her fifth studio album 1989 in the fall of 2014 by releasing the single "Shake It Off" along with an announcement that it would be her first official pop album. The single went straight to #1 and spent two weeks at the top and the next eight weeks at #2. 1989 was released with projections for first week sales of 1.2 million. Ultimately it sold 1.287 million copies in the first week of release. That total was the highest since 2002 when Eminem sold 1.3 million copies of his album The Eminem Show in one week. It also made Taylor Swift the first artist to release three albums with one week sales exceeding one million.

1989 spent 11 weeks at #1 on the album chart. Ultimately, it spent a total of 54 weeks in the top 10 becoming only the fifth album ever to spend its entire first chart year inside the top 10. 1989 sold over five million copies by the end of 2015. The album included five top 10 pop hit singles, three of them went all the way to #1. In addition to "Shake It Off," "Blank Space" and "Bad Blood" became #1 pop hits.

With seven weeks at #1, "Blank Space" became the longest reigning #1 hit of Taylor Swift's career.

The music from 1989 was celebrated by Grammy Awards voters. It won a second Album of the Year award for Taylor Swift making her the first solo female to win that award twice. "Blank Space" was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Taylor Swift currently ranks as the second bestselling digital singles artist of all time in the US with sales near 100 million. She has also sold an estimated 40 million albums.