Born in 1989.
Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. The daughter of two bankers – her father, Scott Kingsley Swift, worked at Merrill Lynch; her mother Andrea spent time as a mutual fund marketing executive — Taylor was raised on a Christmas Tree Farm in suburban Wyomissing together with her younger brother Austin. She began to show interest in music at the age of nine, and Shania Twain wound up as her biggest formative influence. Soon, she learned how to play guitar and began writing songs, signing a music management deal with Dan Dymtrow. Taylor started to work regularly at local talent contests, eventually winning a chance to open for Charlie Daniels. When she was eleven, she took her homemade demo tapes to Nashville and continued traveling back and forth to Music City for the next three years. At fourteen, Taylor and her family permanently moved to the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tennessee, with the intent of furthering her music career. At the time she was already on the radar of the music industry, signing a development deal with RCA Records in 2004. Taylor sharpened her skills with a variety of professional songwriters, forming the strongest connections with Liz Rose. Taylor’s original songs earned her a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, but not long after that 2004 deal she parted ways with Dymtrow and RCA, all with the intent of launching her recording career now, not later.
Things started moving swiftly once Taylor came to the attention of Scott Borchetta, a former DreamWorks Records exec about to launch Big Machine Records. Borchetta saw Taylor perform at a songwriters showcase at the Bluebird Cafe and he signed her to Big Machine in 2005; shortly afterward, she started work on her debut album with producer Nathan Chapman, who’d previously helmed demos for Taylor.
Taylor Swift – Country Prodigy
Fearless – The Breakthrough
Speak Now – Songwriting Masterclass
RED – A Signal Flare
1989 – The Pop Album of the 2010s
reputation – The Comeback
Around the time of her triumphant Grammy win, Taylor became entangled in a highly-publicized feud with rapper Kanye West, who claimed that his interrupting her speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards was what “made [her] famous” on his track “Famous.” After standing up for herself and claiming West never told her he would call her a “bitch” on the song, the public turned against Taylor and began calling her things like a “snake” and a liar on social media. Following the backlash, Taylor took a hiatus from the spotlight, breaking her typical cycle of releasing an album every two years. During this time, she worked on songs like “This Is What You Came For,” which she wrote for then-boyfriend Calvin Harris under a pseudonym, “Better Man,” which she wrote for country group Little Big Town, and “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” a collaboration with ZAYN that appeared in the film Fifty Shades Darker became an international hit.
In August 2017, Taylor took a DJ who groped her to court, after he tried to sue her for defamation. She counter-sued for a symbolic $1 and the jury decided in her favor. Taylor told TIME that she went through with the trial to stand in solidarity with other survivors of sexual assault, which was especially poignant in the face of the #MeToo Movement that was rising at the time.
Just days after the case concluded, Taylor wiped her social media accounts to tease the release of “Look What You Made Me Do” and her sixth studio album, November 2017’s reputation. Despite the previous summer’s conflict, the record had her second biggest sales week to date, debuting at No. 1 and selling 1.21 million copies in the U.S. in its first week, more than all the other 199 albums on the Billboard chart combined. It also went on to become the best-selling U.S. album of 2018, despite its 2017 release, and won accolades like the American Music Award for “Favorite Pop/Rock Album”. Her 2018 “reputation Stadium Tour” also became the highest-grossing tour in US history.
Lover – Artist of the Decade
reputation was Taylor’s last album with Big Machine Records before signing with Republic Records. Following her new contract, Scott Borchetta sold Big Machine Records to entertainment mogul and Taylor’s biggest enemy, Scooter Braun. Taylor took to social media to describe her hurt and disappointment, but vowed to re-record the albums Braun purchased so she could be the full owner.
Taylor’s dedication to artistic ownership became a large focus of the Lover era — she co-produced most tracks on the album, as well as directing or co-directing each music video, including “ME!”, “You Need To Calm Down“, “Lover” and “The Man“. She also became politically vocal, starting with an October 2018 Instagram post about the U.S. midterm elections and continuing with acts like her support of the LGBT community on “You Need to Calm Down.”
In November 2019, the American Music Awards named Taylor as the “Artist of the Decade”, and she performed a medley of some of her biggest hits at the ceremony. That night, she also beat Michael Jackson’s record to become the artist with the most AMA wins in history, earning her 29th award. The next month, Billboard named Taylor their “Woman of the Decade”. In January 2020, she released Miss Americana, a documentary directed by Lana Wilson that offered fans an unprecedented glimpse into Taylor’s everyday life and decision to speak up about politics, alongside “Only The Young”, a political track she wrote while recording Lover.