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How Did Taylor Swift Become Famous? Her Evolution from Aspiring Teen Songwriter to Award-Winning Pop Icon

Dayna Remus
May 19, 2022
12:15 P.M.
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Taylor Swift elicits many clashing opinions: A great storyteller, a terrible singer, a feminist icon, someone who plays the victim, a relatable person, a snake. Yet, the most powerful statement was by the broadcaster Barbara Walters — that Taylor Swift is the music industry. The question is, how did she get here?


Taking the stage at the Yankee Stadium, pop sensation Taylor Swift recently gave an inspiring speech to New York University's class of 2022 while receiving an honorary doctorate.

In true Swift style, her address was filled with a sweet yet almost untouchable edge combined with her widely-known love for cats.

Taylor Swift performing t L'Olympia on September 9, 2019 in Paris. | Source: Getty Images


This singer-songwriter's relatable demeanor can rub some the wrong way, with many critical of her success. But Swiftie or not, to deny that she has made it big in the industry would be delusional. Although starting her career at a young age, she said it was not easy in her speech. Swift expressed:

"See, I was a teenager in the public eye at a time when our society was absolutely obsessed with the idea of having perfect young female role models. It felt like every interview I did included slight barbs by the interviewer about me one day ‘running off the rails’."

But, as many know, she managed to push through this challenging period. As she grew, Swift evolved from one genre to the next, facing controversy after controversy and standing up for the exploitation of musicians — a lot for someone who is only 32 years old.



We can define the road to success as more complex than the sheer force of will and talent, but Swift's tenacity from a young age has been a significant contributor to her current status.

This "Red" artist almost expectedly grew up on a Christmas tree farm until her parents moved to the hometown of country music — Nashville — when Swift, already making her own music, was 13 years old.

In 2004, at 14 years old, the budding musician landed a record deal with Big Machine Records. She eventually released "Tim McGraw" in 2006, a Billboard top 40 hit and the first sign that this teen was going places.


She became a huge name in country music, winning Breakthrough Video of the Year in 2007 for "Tim McGraw" at the CMT Music Awards.

2008 was the year of the "Fearless" album, which catapulted her even higher into country royalty. That same year she was nominated for her first Grammy Award -- of which there were many to come.

In 2009, Swift took home Best Female Video for "You Belong With Me" at the MTV Music Video Awards. 2010 then came around as she released "Fearless," followed by a world tour. In 2011, she celebrated another win, taking home Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards.


She then dropped her album "Red" as she tip-toed into the world of pop music, releasing many hit songs such as "22." Finally, "1989" came out, and Swift was officially a pop princess.

Then, in 2017, she released 'Reputation" and has since kept releasing more acclaimed albums such as "Lover, " "Folklore," and "Evermore," growing more mature in her music with age.


Beyond her talent and hard work, this singer's continuous and almost profoundly personal relationship with her dedicated fans or "Swifties" could also be, in some part, why she keeps bringing listeners back.

From the beginning of her career, when she would communicate intimately with her fans through MySpace, Swift has made sure to pay attention to those who appreciate her music.


Beyond this, there is no denying that Swift's romantic relationships have perhaps, been part of why she keeps finding herself in the headlines.

This is mainly because she tends to date other famous individuals such as John Mayer, Harry Styles, and, currently, Joe Alwyn.

The fact that she has a propensity for writing intimate songs about these connections tends to either touch or irk the general public.


Then, there is the prolific songwriter's fearlessness in taking on what she felt were unfair practices in the music industry. For one, she has re-recorded all the songs from her first six albums after Scooter Braun bought them in 2019.

The vocalist was also applauded in 2014 for pulling all her music off the Spotify platform until they chose to pay artists who were still working their way up. She eventually came back in 2018.



In 2009, when Swift got up to accept her Best Female Video for "You Belong With Me." She was about to begin her speech when Kanye West came onstage. In 2010, she reflected on the incident:

"It’s one of those things that impacted me really heavily and emotionally."

The rapper and producer grabbed the microphone away from the 19-year-old, essentially stating that Beyonce should have won the award. He later implied in one of his songs that he made her famous. Is there any truth to this?


According to Natalie Finn, who wrote for E! News, it was rather West that gained fame from the incident. As she wrote:

"Her career was racing at full speed ahead right to the top at the very least a year before she unwittingly crossed paths with Kanye."

She then listed that before that point, Swift already had 11 awards, one Grammy Nomination, and 15 songs on the Billboard Top 100.


Speaking about her own opinions on success, Swift had a lot to say, such as remaining self-aware and knowing when to rest. One point she brought up was learning how to take critique. Swift certainly has had to learn this the hard way, yet she does have a massive number of people who adore her.

Whichever side of the fence you are on, whether you think she is a snake that slithered to the top or that her talent is the core reason for her achievements, there's no denying that she is a continuous force to be reckoned with.