Multi-platinum recording artist and esteemed singer-songwriter Taylor Swift first embarked on her music-making career at just 14 years old when her and her family relocated to Nashville in 2003. A few short years later, she released her self-titled debut album, sparking a string of No. 1 hits (beginning with the sweet "Our Song"), record-selling albums and sold-out world tours. Along the way, she remains grateful for the opportunity to take her music -- and more importantly, a love of country music -- to fans all over the world.
With seven Grammy awards and six CMA Awards to her name, she continues to be a beckon and ambassador for Music City, something she doesn't take too lightly. “Going outside of your comfort zone geographically is not an easy thing, you know,” she explains in this week's issue of CMA Close Up. “It’s something a lot of artists don’t like to do. You can be at one stage of your career in America and then have to start over in another territory. But we started doing that about five years ago, and I’m so thankful we did because now we can go over there, and we play arenas in Europe and we play stadiums in Australia."
"It’s been amazing to see how my music has thankfully worked in Europe and Asia and the places we’ve gone and that we’ve gone out of our way to go. It’s amazing to look out into a sold-out crowd of people who don’t speak English yet they’re singing along to every word of your songs. The fact that it’s paid off in that way makes me so proud to be from Nashville. It’s an investment I’m so happy we made.”
Even at home in Nashville, she notices a drastic change. She notes, “Last time I was at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, I noticed that almost everyone walking through was from Europe or Australia or New Zealand,” she said. “And that made me so happy. It makes me so proud to see people in other countries curious about Nashville and singer/songwriter music and Country Music.”
Next up, Swift's Red Tour will head to Australia and New Zealand this fall, making her the first solo female artist in 20 years to headline stadium dates there.
“Taylor is an incredibly important client of The Messina Group, one of our subsidiaries,” says Randy Phillips, President and CEO, AEG Live. “And she’s an anomaly, because selling out stadiums is not an easy thing to do. She’s one of the very few who can do it successfully in multiple markets. The demand for Taylor is absolutely coming from the fans, and you cannot fake demand. It’s either there or it isn’t. Her audience wants to see her, and they don’t mind going to a stadium to do it.
He continues, “She’s the ultimate hyphenate. She genre-crosses like no other artist. She wants to experiment and look at different markets. Obviously her roots are Country, but her success is crossing over into pop. No artist in Country Music has managed to break internationally the way Taylor has in so many markets. She’s unique. If you want to call her an ambassador for Nashville, then she’s certainly the first real international ambassador Nashville’s ever had. That’s a huge statement for Country Music."
“Her connection with the audience is incredible," he concludes. "Very few performers can achieve that thing where the wall between them and the audience disappears. But she’s one of them. That’s an important part of the story, that at this stage of her career, Taylor is able to sell out stadiums. Who would have predicted that just six years ago?”
On the topic of her remarkable headlining tours, she remains humble. “I’ve been really lucky with my other tours,” she says. “But being on this tour, the screaming and passion level with the fans has hit a fever pitch. My fans have always been amazing and emotional, but this is something completely new for me. It’s more than it’s ever been before. Every single night when I’m about to get on the elevator lift and walk out onstage, it’s a feeling of, ‘I can’t wait to get out there and do my job.’ I’ve always known I wanted to work constantly until I could make a career in music, but even when I dreamed about having a career in music, I don’t think I ever envisioned the crowds being larger than theaters or possibly arenas.
“In my wildest dreams, I don’t think I ever saw anything like this.”