From "The Best Day" videoIt's hard to believe that Taylor Swift--the world-dominating superstar who's currently up for entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards this week--wasn't always, well, Taylor Swift.
It's true, the 21-year-old singer has spent a mind-boggling third of her short life in the spotlight, so it's easy to forget that her fairy-tale story had to start somewhere. For Swift, we have to go all the way back to her preteen years to dig up the days before anyone knew who she was.
Swift's narrative tunes such as "Mean" hint at an outcast childhood growing up in Pennsylvania. "I had a lot of trouble in school," she told us back in 2006. "I was different."
She managed to take control of her destiny with rapid efficiency, though, singing in public by the age of 11 and learning to play guitar at 12. From there she caught the eye of Britney Spears's manager while performing the National Anthem at the U.S. Open, signed a publishing deal at age 14, and followed that shortly after with a Nashville record deal. So, as one might imagine, not much pre-fame documentation exists of Swift--simply due to her early ascent to the spotlight.
What is out there, however, proves a startling fact. The Swift we know now really isn't too much different from the girl she was back then.
Here's a few points to consider:
1) Swift has kept a standard "look" which has not varied over the years--most notably (and unusually for a teenager) she seems to have never messed around with her hairstyle. Swift's signature towhead curls can be seen all the way back to her earlier days in vintage family footage. Whether pulled back or left loose about her face, long and blond rules year after year.
This sweet and romantic look, like just about everything Swift has cultivated to date, has served her well. Back at the age of 14, it won her a slot as a "rising star" model for fashion giant Abercrombie & Fitch. Seven years later, she landed a coveted slot as the face of CoverGirl's NatureLuxe cosmetics line.
2) Swift's fashion sense has remained stable as well. Her frocks and shoes may now be on the high-end designer side--but flirty, feminine styles with a slight bohemian edge have consistently defined her style.
Oh--and the headbands and hair ties? She's been a fan for ages!
Taylor in 20073) Although she's now legally an adult, Swift still has not seemed to grow out of her adolescent heart-on-the-sleeve personality that has fueled tens of millions of album sales in less than a decade. Back in 2004, she told Good Morning America, "When I go through something, I have to write a song about it, I have to write a poem about it. Writing is everything to me." Seven years later, she told In Style, "I'm always going to feel everything. It's my nature."
4) Finally, and probably most endearingly, Billboard's 2011 Woman of the Year has maintained the seemingly endless well of enthusiasm that's carried her upwards to her currently astronomical level of fame. Can you think of any star besides Swift who has remained relentlessly upbeat, out of trouble, and perpetually in love with her fans?
Swift has a simple explanation as to how she's done it, all these years. "It's continued to stay exciting, all of this," she told Good Morning America. "Everything feels new, all the time even though it's been happening since I was 14."
Here's a vintage interview with Swift circa 2006, back when she visited Yahoo! Music for the first time--and was just on the verge of becoming the Taylor Swift we all know today. Enjoy!
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