New Artist Spotlight: Taylor Swift
By Peter Cronin
© 2006 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.
Some people spend a lifetime looking for their true calling. Taylor Swift is not one of those people. By the time she was 10, this Wyomissing, Penn., native was "dragging" her parents to festivals, fairs, karaoke contests - just about anywhere there was a stage where she could get up and sing. A year later, she was in Nashville knocking on record company doors. Swift describes her sales pitch at the time as, "Hello, I'm Taylor Swift, I'm 11 and I want a record deal." Not surprisingly, she didn't get signed, but she did walk away with some important lessons.
"That trip made me realize I needed to be different than everyone else people saw on Music Row every day," she said.
Swift returned home, got a 12-string guitar, taught herself how to play and jumped right into writing songs. "I played about four hours a day until my parents made me stop to come and eat dinner," Swift said. "I loved it that much."
Mom and Dad finally relented; relocating to Nashville after Swift was offered a development deal with RCA Records. With a growing record collection that included artists ranging from LeAnn Rimes to Tim McGraw to Sheryl Crow, Swift's after school hours were largely taken up with co-writing appointments. She was signed to Sony/ATV Tree Music Publishing at 14.
Performing at a showcase at Nashville's Bluebird Café, Swift was approached by label executive Scott Borchetta who was getting ready to start a new label, Big Machine. The young singer/songwriter was among his first signings and wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. Her leadoff single, "Tim McGraw," is already climbing the charts, and her self-titled debut album (produced by Nathan Chapman) was released on Oct. 24.
IN HER OWN WORDS
Which song would you secretly like to cover?
"Vonda Sheppard's 'Baby Don't You Break My Heart Slow.' It's got such simple lyrics, but they're lyrics that really make you feel."
What CD is in your stereo?
"Little Big Town's The Road to Here, the new Corrine Bailey Rae CD, Tim McGraw's CDs Live Like You Were Dying and Set This Circus Down."
Do you have a lucky charm?
"My lucky charm is a year-old, very weathered leather band around my wrist that says, 'Live in Love.'"
Who is your dream duet partner?
"Phillip Sweet from Little Big Town. He's my favorite person to listen to. Love his voice."