Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. Swift spent her early years on her family’s Christmas tree farm in nearby Wyomissing. 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, which sold 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.
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 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.
As a multi Grammy Award winning artist Swift has become a hot commodity with her concert tickets selling out in minutes.
Taylor Swift was ranked No. 1 as Forbes magazine’s highest paid celebrity under 30 in 2012, beating out Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Lady Gaga with a salary of $57 million. 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.
The following year, Swift shared some of her fortune to help others. She funded the $4 million Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The facility has three classrooms, a learning lab and a space dedicated to exhibits for children. In an interview with CMT Hot 20 Countdown, 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 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 honored 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. And 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. For the third year in a row, she picked up the AMA Award for Artist of the Year, among other wins.