Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989, in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Swift spent her early years on her family’s Christmas tree farm. Her grandmother had been a professional opera singer, and Swift soon followed in her footsteps. By the age of 10, Swift was singing at a variety of local events, including fairs and contests. She sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a Philadelphia 76ers game at the age of 11, and began writing her own songs and learning guitar at 12 years old.To pursue her music career, Swift often visited Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital. There she co-wrote songs, and tried to land a recording contract. Noting her dedication, Swift and her family moved to nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee, in an attempt to further Swift’s career.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, selling more than 2.5 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.In addition to commercial success, Swift received a lot of critical praise for her debut effort. She won the Horizon Award from the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Female Vocalist in 2007. Swift next released Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection in 2007. Her renditions of “Silent Night” and “Santa Baby” were modest hits on the country charts.In 2008, Swift was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category, and won the Academy of Country Music’s “Female Vocalist of the Year” Award, the American Music Awards “Favorite Female Country Artist” award, and the American Music Association’s “Horizon” award. Around this same time, Swift released her next album, Fearless (2008), which hit the top of both the country and pop charts and stayed there for 11 weeks. By the end of the year, Swift had become the highest-selling country artist of 2008.In 2009, 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 CMT Music Awards. On September 13, 2009, Swift also won the MTV Video Music Award for “Best Female Video,” making her the first country music star to win an MTV Video Music Award. The win stirred controversy when rapper Kanye West leaped to the stage during Swift’s speech, took the microphone, and declared that R&B singer Beyoncé 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.If possible, the attention has made Swift an even hotter commodity. Her concert tickets now sell out in less than two minutes, and she is currently ranked as the 69th most powerful celebrity by Forbes magazine, with more than $18 million in earnings this year alone. She recently made her second appearance on comedy show Saturday Night Live, this time as both the host and musical guest. She has also been tapped for four CMA nominations in 2009—”Female Vocalist”, “Music Video of the Year”, “Best Album” and “Entertainer of the Year”— as well as six American Music Award nominations.