Saturday, January 12, 2013
Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of fourteen to pursue a career in country music. She signed to the independent label Big Machine Records and became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. The release of Swift's eponymous debut album in 2006 established her as a country music star. "Our Song", her third single, made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number one song on the country chart. She received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Swift's second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the pop crossover success of the singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me", Fearless became the top-selling album of 2009 and was supported by an extensive concert tour. The record won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Swift's third album, 2010's Speak Now, sold over one million copies in its first week of US release and was supported by the thirteen-month Speak Now World Tour. The album's third single, "Mean", won two Grammy Awards. Swift's fourth album, Red, was released in 2012. Its opening US sales of 1.21 million were the highest recorded in a decade, with Swift becoming the only female artist to have two million-plus opening weeks. The lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", was Swift's first number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a worldwide hit. The Red Tour is scheduled to begin in March 2013.
Swift is known for her narrative songs about her experiences as a teenager and young adult. As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Swift's other achievements include six Grammy Awards, eleven American Music Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards and thirteen BMI Awards. She has sold over 22 million albums worldwide and 51.1 million digital downloads in the United States as of 2012. In addition to her music career, Swift has appeared as an actress in the crime drama CSI (2009), the ensemble comedy Valentine's Day (2010) and the animated film The Lorax (2012). Forbes estimates that she is worth over $165 million. As a philanthropist, Swift supports arts education, children's literacy, natural disaster relief, LGBT anti-discrimination efforts, and charities for sick children.
In September 2009, Swift became the first country music artist to win an MTV Video Music Award when "You Belong with Me" was named Best Female Video. Her acceptance speech was interrupted by rapper Kanye West, who had been involved in a number of other award show incidents. West declared Beyoncé's video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", nominated in the same category, to be "one of the best videos of all time." Many audience members booed West, prompting him to flip off the crowd. He then handed the microphone back to a speechless Swift. Backstage, Swift was seen "hysterically crying". According to Rolling Stone, when Swift's mother confronted West, he gave "a half-hearted apology in which he added he still thought Beyoncé's video was superior". West was removed from the event. When Beyoncé later won the award for Video of the Year, she invited Swift onstage to finish her speech. In the event's press room, Swift, who in 2008 had expressed a desire to sing a hook on a Kanye West rap song, was asked if she had "any hard feelings" towards West: "I don't know him, and I've never met him, so... I don't want to start anything because I had a great night tonight." The incident received much media attention and inspired many Internet memes. President Barack Obama, in an off the record comment, called West a "jackass". Former US President Jimmy Carter said West's interruption was "completely uncalled for". West's behavior was criticized by celebrities, including Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Madonna. West apologized for his verbal outburst in two blog entries and during an appearance on The Jay Leno Show. He maintained that, while Swift was "very talented", "Beyoncé's video was the best of this decade!!!! ... I gave my awards to Outkast when they deserved it over me ... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real." Two days after the VMAs, Swift told an interviewer that West had not spoken to her since the ceremony. West then contacted her to offer a personal apology, which Swift accepted: "Kanye did call me, and he was very sincere in his apology." She refused to discuss the incident in subsequent interviews so as not to make a "bigger deal" of it: "It happened on TV, so everybody saw what happened ... It's not something I feel like we need to keep talking about." It has been said that the incident and subsequent media attention turned Swift into "a bona-fide mainstream celebrity"