THE EARLY YEARS: CHRISTMAS TREES AND LEANN RIMES CDS
She’s the total package. A vocalist of astounding power and gravitas. A talented songwriter with a diverse range, she can create mature, thoughtful compositions as well as light, frothy pop hits. She’s Taylor Swift. Often referred to as “America’s Sweetheart,” she’s actually so much more than that.
Maybe you like her early country music songs or her more experimental albums like Folklore
. Perhaps you dance to “Shake It Off” when you need to de--stress after a tough day at school.
But who is Taylor Swift, and how did she get to be one of the most iconic stars in the history of popular music? Believe it or not, before all the glitz and the glamour, she was just a small child with big dreams.
While she’s adept at playing the piano, banjo, and ukulele, Taylor prefers playing the guitar.
Taylor Swift was named after singer and songwriter James Taylor, one of her parents’ favorite artists.
A Magical Childhood
Taylor Alison Swift was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1989. Her father, Scott, is a stockbroker, and her mother, Andrea, is a homemaker and a former mutual fund marketing executive. Taylor’s brother, Austin, was born when she was two years old.
Taylor’s childhood was, in some ways, like something out of a fairy tale. She grew up on her parents’ Christmas tree farm in Reading, where she rode horses and enjoyed the wide-open spaces.
But in certain ways, Taylor had a childhood like any other. True, she was surrounded by Christmas trees and ponies for the first decade of her life. But like any other kid, she had to help out around the house. At the farm, this meant that it was her job to pick praying mantis pods off the trees before they were sold to customers.
In 2019, Taylor Swift released a song called “Christmas Tree Farm,” which was inspired by her childhood.
Taylor Swift believes that thirteen is her lucky number. She was born on December 13, her first album went gold in thirteen weeks, and her first single, “Tim McGraw,” had a thirteen-second intro.
The New Kid in Town
When Taylor was in fifth grade, her family moved to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Because of the move, she had to change schools. She didn’t know anyone at her new school in Wyomissing, and she felt awkward and lonely. Taylor was searching for something that made her feel seen. She found that “something” in country music. She was a big fan of many strong, charismatic female performers in the country music world, such as the Chicks, Shania Twain, and LeAnn Rimes.
LeAnn Rimes was Taylor Swift’s hero when she was growing up. Taylor got her first LeAnn Rimes CD when she was six years old.
Taylor won a national poetry contest after she moved to Wyomissing. Her winning entry was a poem called “There’s a Monster in My Closet.”
Also around the time she moved to Wyomissing, Taylor became interested in musical theater. After performing in a school play, she began appearing in musicals produced by the Berks County Youth Theatre Academy.
When she wasn’t acting in musicals, Taylor tried singing like her country music idols. She soon realized that she liked singing more than acting. Since LeAnn Rimes started her career at age thirteen, Taylor thought she’d do that as well. After all, Taylor was eleven, which was almost
While Taylor was a member of Berks County Youth Theatre Academy, she also enjoyed performing karaoke. In fact, she entered karaoke competitions every week!
During this period, Taylor had an acting coach who believed in her so much, he rented space in a local mall just so Taylor could perform there, belting country songs to karaoke backing tracks.
Copyright © 2023 by Arie Kaplan; Illustrated by Risa Rodil. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.