Taylor Swift released her first single, “Tim McGraw,” in 2006, which was quickly followed by the release of her self-titled first album. Her first album was certified mutli-platinum, meaning that the album sold more than 2,000,000 copies. in 2006 also, she was nominated for the Best New Artist award at the 50th Grammy Awards.
So 2006 was a pretty good year for Ms. Swift.
But 2008 was better. Swift released “Fearless,” her second album, which later was certified multi-platinum as well. This album won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. Her second album topped the Billboard 200 list for eleven weeks. In fact, no single album has spent more time in the top position since 2000. Coming as no surprise, in 2009, Billboard Magazine named Taylor Swift “Artist of the Year.”
Whence, you might ask, does all of this success come?
Is Taylor Swift, like Milli Vanilli, a product of a group of people who remain behind the scenes? In other words, is she a legitimate success or is she a product: created, coached and polished, by a slick record producer?
Taylor Swift is a legitimate success. She is successful, in fact, due in very large part to homegrown values that have been a part of her life since she was born. She was born in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, a smallish town to the west of Reading and to the northwest of Philadelphia. She is the only daughter and firstborn child of Andrea and Scott Swift. The Swifts are a regular family: husband is a stockbroker, mother is a homemaker. Taylor’s grandmother was an opera singer, which is likely where the young artist got her pipes.
Swift’s family recognized early on that Taylor was unusually musically gifted. After her first guitar lesson, in which she learned three chords, Taylor wrote her first song. She participated in every singing contest and karaoke opportunity that came her way. As an elementary school student, a three page poem that she wrote won a national prize. So not only was Taylor an excellent singer; she was also a talented lyricist.
When she was eleven, Swift dropped demos off with every label in Nashville. She persisted with her ambition to become a signed performer, working hard to produce good music and convince producers to sign her. Soon after being signed, her career took off and has reached ever higher into the stratosphere of fame, as described above.
So far, we see that she had a supportive family who were salt-of-the-earth types. She inherited talent from her grandmother, but spent years honing her musical ability, meaning she was diligent and hard-working. Her persistence and ambition, combined with her work ethic earned her early success. Sticking to values of love and friendship in her songs, and demonstrating honesty in her songwriting has made a major contribution to Taylor Swift’s popularity.
She is honest, hard-working, ambitious, clean-living and clearly very sweet-natured. She is also strong-willed, diligent and does her own songwriting. Can you think of a scandal that she has been involved in? Does she seem to live a double standard? The answer to these two questions: No.
These are homegrown values that Taylor Swift and her music embody. It is clear that her success is very much a product of these homegrown values. Now we can only hope that she maintains these values and continues to produce quality music.