Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American country pop singer-songwriter and actress.
In 2006, she released her debut single "Tim McGraw", then her self-titled debut album, which was subsequently certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and was nominated for the Best New Artist award at 50th Grammy Awards. In November 2008, Swift released her second album, Fearless, and the recording earned Swift four Grammy Awards, including the Album of the Year, at the 52nd Grammy Awards. Fearless and Taylor Swift finished 2008 at number-three and number-six respectively, with sales of 2.1 and 1.5 million. Fearless has topped the Billboard 200 in 11 non-consecutive weeks; no album has spent more time at No. 1 since 2000. Swift was named Artist of the Year by Billboard Magazine in 2009. Swift released her third album Speak Now on October 25, 2010 which sold 1,047,000 copies in its first week.
In 2008, her albums sold a combined four million copies, making her the best-selling musician of the year in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Forbes ranked Swift 2009's 69th-most powerful celebrity with earnings of $18 million and 2010's 12th-most powerful celebrity with earnings of $45 million. Swift was ranked the 38th Best Artist of the 2000-10 decade by Billboard. In January 2010 Nielsen SoundScan listed Swift as the country (or country/pop crossover) artist in music history with over 28 million digital tracks sold. As of March 2010, she has sold over 13 million albums worldwide.
Swift was born and raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, to Andrea (née Finlay), a homemaker, and Scott Swift, a stockbroker. Her grandmother was an opera singer. Swift has a younger brother, Austin. When she was in fourth grade, she won a national poetry contest with a three-page poem entitled "Monster In My Closet".
At the age of 10, a computer repairman showed her how to play three chords on a guitar, sparking her interest in learning the instrument. Afterwards, she wrote her first song, "Lucky You". She began writing songs regularly and used it as an outlet to help her with her pain from not fitting in at school. She was a victim of bullying, and often wrote songs to express her emotions. Swift also started performing at karaoke contests, festivals, and fairs around her hometown. When she was 12, she devoted an entire summer to writing a 350-page novel, which remains unpublished. Her first major show was a well-received performance at the Bloomsburg Fair. Swift attended Hendersonville High School but was subsequently homeschooled for her junior and senior years. In 2008, she earned her high-school diploma.
Swift's greatest musical influence is Shania Twain. Her other influences include LeAnn Rimes, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, and her grandmother. Although her grandmother was a professional opera singer, Swift's tastes always leaned more toward country music. In her younger years, she developed a love for Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton. She also credits the Dixie Chicks for demonstrating the impact you can make by "stretching boundaries".