Taylor Swift Biography

Monday, December 24, 2012
Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of fourteen to pursue a career in country music. She signed to the independent label Big Machine Records and became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. The release of Swift's eponymous debut album in 2006 established her as a country music star. "Our Song", her third single, made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number one song on the country chart. She received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

Swift's second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the pop crossover success of the singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me", Fearless became the top-selling album of 2009 and was supported by an extensive concert tour. The record won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Swift's third album, 2010's Speak Now, sold over one million copies in its first week of US release and was supported by the thirteen-month Speak Now World Tour. The album's third single, "Mean", won two Grammy Awards. Swift's fourth album, Red, was released in 2012. Its opening US sales of 1.21 million were the highest recorded in a decade, with Swift becoming the only female artist to have two million-plus opening weeks. The lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", was Swift's first number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a worldwide hit. The Red Tour is scheduled to begin in March 2013.

Swift is known for her hook-laden, narrative songs about her experiences as a teenager and young adult. As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Swift's other achievements include six Grammy Awards, eleven American Music Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards and thirteen BMI Awards. She has sold over 26 million albums and 70 million song downloads worldwide. In addition to her music career, Swift has appeared as an actress in the crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2009), the ensemble comedy Valentine's Day (2010) and the animated film The Lorax (2012). Forbes estimates that she is worth over $165 million. As a philanthropist, Swift supports arts education, children's literacy, natural disaster relief, LGBT anti-discrimination efforts, and charities for sick children.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
 Early life

Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her father, Scott Kingsley Swift, is a Merrill Lynch financial adviser. He was raised in Pennsylvania and is the descendant of three generations of bank presidents. Her mother, Andrea (née Finlay), is a homemaker who previously worked as a mutual fund marketing executive. Andrea spent the first ten years of her life in Singapore, before settling in Texas; her father was an oil rig engineer who worked throughout Southeast Asia. Swift was named after singer James Taylor; her mother believed a gender-neutral name would help her forge a successful business career. She has a younger brother, Austin, who attends the University of Notre Dame. She spent the early years of her life on an eleven-acre Christmas tree farm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and was educated at the fee-paying Wyndcroft School. When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, where she attended West Reading Elementary Center and Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School. She summered at her parents' vacation home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey and has described it as the place "where most of my childhood memories were formed".

Swift's first hobby was English horse riding. Her mother put her in a saddle when she was nine months old; Swift later competed in horse shows. Her family owned several Quarter horses and a Shetland pony.[14] At the age of nine, Swift turned her attention to musical theatre and performed in Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions of Grease, Annie, Bye Bye Birdie and The Sound of Music. She traveled regularly to Broadway, New York for vocal and acting lessons. However, "after a few years of auditioning in New York and not getting anything", Swift became interested in country music. She spent her weekends performing at local festivals, fairs, coffeehouses, karaoke contests, garden clubs, Boy Scout meetings and hospitals. At the age of eleven, after many attempts, Swift won a local talent competition by singing a rendition of LeAnn Rimes's "Big Deal", and was given the opportunity to appear as the opening act for Charlie Daniels at a Strausstown amphitheater. This growing ambition and interest in country music began to isolate Swift from her middle school peers.

After watching a Behind the Music episode about Faith Hill, Swift felt sure that she needed to go to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a music career. She traveled with her mother to Nashville for spring break to leave a demo of Dolly Parton and Dixie Chicks karaoke covers with record labels along Music Row. She received label rejections and realized that "everyone in that town wanted to do what I wanted to do. So, I kept thinking to myself, I need to figure out a way to be different". She began performing the "The Star Spangled Banner" at sporting events because it was an opportunity to "get in front of 20,000 people without even having a record deal". At the age of twelve, Swift was shown by a computer repairman how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You". She had previously won a national poetry contest with a poem entitled "Monster in My Closet" but now began to focus on songwriting. In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow. With Dymtrow's help, Swift modelled for Abercrombie and Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included in a Maybelline Cosmetics compilation CD and took meetings with major record labels. After performing original songs at an RCA Records showcase, the eight-grader was given an artist development deal and began making frequent trips to Nashville.

When Swift was fourteen, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch and the family relocated to a lake-shore house in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Swift later described this as "an incredible sacrifice" for her family to make. "My parents saw that I was so obsessed, that I wasn't going to drop it, that it wasn't some adolescent phase. They were thrown into this." "We had no idea what we were doing. My parents bought books on what the music industry was like." In Tennessee, Swift attended Hendersonville High School for her freshman and sophomore years. Later, to accommodate her touring schedule, Swift transferred to the Aaron Academy, a private Christian school which offered homeschooling services. She earned her high school diploma in 2008, having completed her final two years of course work in twelve months.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
Music career
2004–08: Career beginnings and Taylor Swift


Swift moved to Nashville at the age of fourteen. As part of her artist development deal with RCA Records, she had writing sessions with experienced Music Row songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally and The Warren Brothers. She eventually formed a lasting working relationship with Liz Rose. Swift saw Rose performing at an RCA songwriter event and suggested that they write together. They began meeting for two-hour writing sessions every Tuesday afternoon after school. Rose has said that the sessions were "some of the easiest I've ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She'd write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she'd come in with the most incredible hooks". Swift also began recording demos with producer Nathan Chapman. After performing at a BMI Songwriter's Circle showcase at The Bitter End, New York, Swift became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house. She left RCA Records when she was fifteen; the company wanted her to record the work of other songwriters and wait until she was eighteen to release an album, but she felt ready to launch her career with her own material.  She also parted ways with manager Dan Dymtrow, who later took legal action against Swift and her parents. "'I genuinely felt that I was running out of time," Swift later recalled. "I wanted to capture these years of my life on an album while they still represented what I was going through." At an industry showcase at Nashville's Bluebird Café in 2005, Swift caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a Dreamworks Records executive who was preparing to form his own independent record label, Big Machine Records. She became one of the label's first signings, with her father purchasing a three per cent stake in the fledgling company. As an introduction to the country music business, Borchetta arranged for Swift to intern as an artist escort at the CMA Music Festival.Taylor Swift sits and leans over her oak guitar while picking a string
Swift performing at the Maverick Saloon & Grill in Santa Maria, California in 2006

 Swift began working on her eponymous debut album shortly after signing her record deal. After experimenting with veteran Nashville producers, Swift persuaded Big Machine to hire her demo producer Nathan Chapman. It was his first time to record a studio album but Swift felt they had the right "chemistry". In the end, Chapman produced all but one of the tracks on Taylor Swift. She has described the album as the "diary" of her early teens. She has said that, although "it sounds like I've had 500 boyfriends", a lot of the songs are observational. Swift wrote three of the album's songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining eight with writers such as Liz Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall and Angelo Petraglia. Musically, the album has been described as "a mix of trad-country instruments and spry rock guitars". Taylor Swift was released in October 2006. The New York Times described it as "a small masterpiece of pop-minded country, both wide-eyed and cynical, held together by Ms. Swift's firm, pleading voice." PopMatters hoped Swift would be "able to find an accomodation between the country tradition and her very obvious pop sensibilities, because Taylor Swift suggests she has much to offer". The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones described Swift as a "prodigy". He noted that "Our Song" "stop[ed] me in my tracks" and praised the lyrics: "He's got a one-hand feel on the steering wheel, the other on my heart". Country Weekly felt that "the more thoughtful material suggests a talent poised to last well past high school". Rolling Stone described Swift as "bright-eyed but remarkably seasoned", and admired "Our Song"'s "insanely hooky sing-song melody that's as Britney as it is Patsy".Taylor Swift, wearing a white dress and sunglasses, plays an acoustic guitar while standing at a microphone stand
Swift performing at Yahoo! HQ in Sunnyvale, California in 2007
Big Machine Records was still in its infancy upon the release of the lead single "Tim McGraw" in June 2006, and Swift and her mother helped "stuff the CD singles into envelopes to send to radio". She spent much of 2006 promoting Taylor Swift in a radio tour and later commented, "Radio tours for most artists last six weeks. Mine lasted six months." Swift baked cookies and painted canvases (inspired by Jackson Pollock) to gift to radio station programmers who played her music. She made many television appearances, including on the Grand Ole Opry, Good Morning America, and TRL. She also signed endorsement deals, appearing as a spokesmodel for l.e.i. jeans and as the face of Verizon Wireless' Mobile Music campaign. Swift, a self-described "kid of the internet", used MySpace to build a fanbase. She wrote her own blog posts, left comments on her fans' accounts and personally respond to the messages that were sent to her. This was, at the time, "revolutionary in country music". Borchetta has said that his decision to sign a sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter initially raised eyebrows among his record industry peers but Swift tapped into a previously unknown market: teenage girls who listen to country music. Following "Tim McGraw", four further singles were released throughout 2007 and 2008: "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No". All were highly successful on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, with "Our Song" and "Should've Said No" both reaching number one. "Our Song" made Swift the youngest person to single-handedly write and sing a number one country song. "Teardrops on My Guitar" became a minor pop hit; it reached number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100. The album sold 39,000 copies during its first week of release and, as of March 2011, has sold over 5.5 million copies worldwide. Swift also released a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, in October 2007 and an EP, Beautiful Eyes, in July 2008.

Swift toured extensively in support of Taylor Swift. In addition to festival and theater dates, Swift performed as an opening act for several country artists' concert tours. In late 2006, she opened for Rascal Flatts on the final nine dates of their Me & My Gang Tour, after the previous supporting act Eric Church was fired. Swift later sent Church her first gold record with a note: "Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor". In 2007, she served as the opening act on twenty dates for George Strait's tour, several dates on Kenny Chesney's Flip-Flop Summer Tour, selected dates on Brad Paisley's Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour and several dates for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's joint Soul2Soul II Tour. Swift again opened for Rascal Flatts on their Still Feels Good Tour in 2008. In addition to performing her own material, Swift played covers of songs by Beyoncé, Rihanna, John Waite, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Eminem. She conducted meet-and-greet sessions with fans before and after her concerts; these lasted for up to four hours.

In 2007, Swift and Alan Jackson were jointly named the Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist of the Year. Swift was the youngest person ever to be honored with the title. She also won the Country Music Association's Horizon Award for Best New Artist. In 2008, she was named Top New Female Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards and Favorite Country Female Artist at the American Music Awards. She received seven BMI Awards for songs featured on Taylor Swift. Swift was also nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist, but lost to Amy Winehouse.

 2008–10: Fearless, VMA controversy and Grammy backlash

Swift's second studio album, Fearless, was released in November 2008. Swift wrote seven of the album's songs alone, including two singles, and co-wrote the remaining six with songwriters Liz Rose, John Rich, Colbie Caillat and Hillary Lindsey. She co-produced the album with Nathan Chapman. Musically, it has been said that the record is characterized by "loud, lean guitars and rousing choruses", with the occasional "bit of fiddle and banjo tucked into the mix". The New York Times described Swift as "one of pop's finest songwriters, country's foremost pragmatist and more in touch with her inner life than most adults". The Village Voice felt she displayed "preternatural wisdom and inclusiveness", "masterfully avoiding the typical diarist's pitfalls of trite banality and pseudo-profound bullshit". Rolling Stone described her as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture" whose "squirmingly intimate and true" songs seemed to be "literally ripped from a suburban girl's diary". USA Today found it "a pleasure to hear a gifted teenager who sounds like a gifted teenager, rather than a mouthpiece for a bunch of older pros' collective notion of adolescent yearning."The New Yorker described it as an album "without a bad track", adding that "the album's finest effort, "Fifteen", will feature in yearbook quotes for years". Entertainment Weekly noted that the album would appeal mainly to young girls – "she sounds like a real teen, not some manufactured vixen-Lolita" – but predicted it would be "exciting to watch her precocious talent grow". Music critic Robert Christgau described Swift as "an uncommonly-to-impossibly strong and gifted teenage girl".
Taylor Swift performing in a dark purple dress with a light-brown colored guitar against a black background
Swift performing at the 2010 Cavendish Beach Music Festival in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Swift promoted Fearless heavily upon its release. An episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show was dedicated to the album launch and Swift appeared on many other chat shows. She communicated with fans using social media platforms such as Twitter and personal video blogs. She launched a l.e.i. sundress range at Wal-Mart, as well as a line of American Greetings cards and Jakks Pacific dolls. She became a spokesperson for the NHL's Nashville Predators and Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras, and performed in a commercial for the Band Hero video game, with Rivers Cuomo, Pete Wentz and Travis Barker appearing as her backing band. The singer paid tribute to a number of fellow artists in televised performances: she performed a cover of Alan Jackson's "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" at the CMT Giants: Alan Jackson event, took part in a joint, televised concert with rock band Def Leppard in Nashville, and performed a cover of George Strait's "Run" at a televised ACM event honoring Strait as the Artist of the Decade. Swift sang her song "Fifteen" with Miley Cyrus at the 51st Grammy Awards, performed a self-penned rap skit with T-Pain at the CMT Awards and hosted Saturday Night Live. The lead single from the album, "Love Story", was released in September 2008 and became the second best-selling country single of all time, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Four more singles were released throughout 2008 and 2009: "White Horse", "You Belong with Me", "Fifteen" and "Fearless". "You Belong with Me" was the album's highest-charting single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Album Chart with sales of 592,304 and has since sold over 8.6 million copies worldwide. It was the top-selling album of 2009 and brought Swift much crossover success.

Swift carried out her first headlining tour from April 2009 to June 2010. As part of the 105-date Fearless Tour, Swift played 90 dates in North America, six dates in Europe, eight dates in Australia and one date in Asia. The elaborate stage set included a fairy-tale castle and a high school bandstand. She sang a cover of Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around... Comes Around" nightly, intertwined with her own "You're Not Sorry". Swift invited John Mayer, Faith Hill and Katy Perry to perform one-off duets with her at various dates during the North American tour. Justin Bieber, Kellie Pickler and Gloriana were the support acts. The tour was attended by more than 1.1 million fans and grossed over $63 million. Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless, a concert film, was aired on television and later released on DVD and Blu-ray. Also in 2009, Swift performed as a supporting act for Keith Urban's Escape Together World Tour.

In September 2009, Swift became the first country music artist to win an MTV Video Music Award when "You Belong with Me" was named Best Female Video. Her acceptance speech was interrupted by rapper Kanye West, who had been involved in a number of other award show incidents. West declared Beyoncé's video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", nominated in the same category, to be "one of the best videos of all time." Many audience members booed West, prompting him to flip off the crowd. He then handed the microphone back to a speechless Swift. Backstage, Swift was seen "hysterically crying". According to Rolling Stone, when Swift's mother confronted West, he gave "a half-hearted apology in which he added he still thought Beyoncé's video was superior". West was removed from the event. When Beyoncé later won the award for Video of the Year, she invited Swift onstage to finish her speech. In the event's press room, Swift, who in 2008 had expressed a desire to sing a hook on a Kanye West rap song, was asked if she had "any hard feelings" towards West: "I don't know him, and I've never met him, so... I don't want to start anything because I had a great night tonight." The incident received much media attention and inspired many Internet memes. President Barack Obama, in an off the record comment, called West a "jackass". Former US President Jimmy Carter said West's interruption was "completely uncalled for". West's behavior was criticized by celebrities, including Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Madonna. West apologized for his verbal outburst in two blog entries and during an appearance on The Jay Leno Show. He maintained that, while Swift was "very talented", "Beyoncé's video was the best of this decade!!!! ... I gave my awards to Outkast when they deserved it over me ... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real." Two days after the VMAs, Swift told an interviewer that West had not spoken to her since the ceremony. West then contacted her to offer a personal apology, which Swift accepted: "Kanye did call me, and he was very sincere in his apology." She refused to discuss the incident in subsequent interviews so as not to make a "bigger deal" of it: "It happened on TV, so everybody saw what happened ... It's not something I feel like we need to keep talking about." It has been said that the incident and subsequent media attention turned Swift into "a bona-fide mainstream celebrity".

Swift released a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" through Rhapsody in June 2009 and continues to make her stage entrance to Petty's recording of the song. She contributed backing vocals to John Mayer's "Half of My Heart", a single featured on his fourth album, in November 2009. Mayer wrote the song as a tribute to Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac: "I thought, 'Well, if this is going to be my love letter to that style of music, who's going to be the Stevie Nicks in this equation?' And I thought, 'This Taylor Swift girl is going to be around for a long time." Swift collaborated with a number of other artists in 2008 and 2009. She co-wrote and recorded "Best Days of Your Life" with Kellie Pickler. She co-wrote two songs for the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack – "You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home" and "Crazier" – with Martin Johnson and Robert Ellis Orrall, respectively. Swift also provided vocals for Boys Like Girls's "Two Is Better Than One", written by Martin Johnson. In January 2010, Swift contributed two songs – including "Today Was a Fairytale" – to the Valentine's Day soundtrack and recorded a cover of Better Than Ezra's "Breathless" for the Hope for Haiti Now album.Taylor Swift stands in a Time press area, wearing a black, strapless dress and curled hair
Swift at the 2010 Time 100 Gala, where she was honored

Swift won four Grammy Awards in January 2010, from a total of eight nominations. Fearless was named Album of the Year and Best Country Album, while "White Horse" was named Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. She was the youngest ever artist to win Album of the Year. During the ceremony, Swift sang "Rhiannon" and "You Belong with Me" with Stevie Nicks. Her vocal performance received negative reviews and sparked a widespread media backlash. Her vocals were described variously as "badly off-key", "strikingly bad" and "incredibly wretched". While The New York Times found it "refreshing to see someone so gifted make the occasional flub" and described Swift as "the most important new pop star of the past few years", music analyst Bob Lefsetz predicted that her career would end "overnight". He publicly appealed to Swift's father to hire a "crisis publicity agent" to manage the story because "Taylor's too young and dumb to understand the mistake she made". In April 2010, Stevie Nicks, writing in Time, defended the singer: "Taylor reminds me of myself in her determination and her childlike nature. It's an innocence that's so special and so rare. This girl writes the songs that make the whole world sing, like Neil Diamond or Elton John ... The female rock-'n'-roll-country-pop songwriter is back, and her name is Taylor Swift. And it's women like her who are going to save the music business." Fearless won many other accolades and has become the most awarded album in country music history. Swift became the youngest ever artist and one of only six women to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. Fearless also won the Association's Album of the Year award. She was the youngest ever artist to win the Academy of Country Music's Album of the Year honor. The American Music Awards honored Swift with Artist of the Year and Favorite Country Album plaudits. She was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was named Songwriter/Artists of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association. She won four BMI Awards. Billboard named her 2009's Artist of the Year. Swift was included in Time's annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in 2010.

2010–12: Speak Now; live and studio collaborations

Swift released her third studio album, Speak Now, in October 2010. She wrote all twelve songs alone. Swift, who co-produced the record with longtime collaborator Nathan Chapman, has described it as "a collection of confessions—things I wish I had said when I was in the moment". She originally intended to call the album Enchanted but Scott Borchetta, her record label's CEO, felt the title did not reflect the album's more adult themes. Musically, it has been said that the album "expands beyond country-pop to border both alternative rock and dirty bubblegum pop". USA Today felt that Swift's songwriting skills would remind listeners "what all the fuss was about in the first place", with the album capturing "the sweet ache of becoming an adult". The Los Angeles Times praised her ability as a songwriter to "hit on common experiences that feel unique". The New York Times described the album as savage, musically diverse and "excellent too, possibly her best". The Village Voice found that the album demanded "a true appreciation of Swift's talent, which is not confessional, but dramatic: Like a procession of country songwriters before her, she creates characters and situations—some from life—and finds potent ways to describe them." Entertainment Weekly noted that, while love may confound her, "the art of expert songcraft clearly doesn't". Music critic John Christgau found the album's songs "overlong and overworked" but remarked that "they evince an effort that bears a remarkable resemblance to care—that is, to caring in the best, broadest, and most emotional sense". Rolling Stone described Swift as one of the best songwriters in "pop, rock or country": "Swift might be a clever Nashville pro who knows all the hitmaking tricks, but she's also a high-strung, hyper-romantic gal with a melodramatic streak the size of the Atchafalaya Swamp".
Taylor Swift, wearing a purple dress, plays a blue acoustic guitar while sitting on a stool
Swift performing during the Speak Now World Tour in 2011

Swift carried out an extensive promotional campaign prior to Speak Now's release. She appeared on various talk shows and morning shows, and gave free mini-concerts in unusual locations, including an open-decker bus on Hollywood Boulevard and a departure lounge at JFK airport. She took part in a "guitar pull" alongside Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill and Lionel Ritchie at LA's Club Nokia; the musicians shared the stage and took turns introducing and playing acoustic versions of their songs to raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In addition to her pre-existing Sony Electronics and American Greetings endorsements, Swift also became a CoverGirl spokesmodel, launched an Elizabeth Arden fragrance entitled Wonderstruck and released a special edition of Speak Now through Target. The album's lead single, "Mine", was released in August 2010 and five further singles were released throughout 2010 and 2011: "Back to December", "Mean", "The Story of Us", "Sparks Fly" and "Ours". Speak Now was a major commercial success, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. Its sales of 1,047,000 copies made it the sixteenth album in US history to sell one million copies in a single week. As of February 2012, Speak Now has sold over 5.7 million copies worldwide.

In September 2010, Kanye West used his Twitter account to apologize to Swift for his 2009 VMA interruption, referring to her as "just a lil girl with dreams like the rest of us": "I wrote a song for Taylor Swift that's so beautiful and I want her to have it. If she won't take it then I'll perform it for her." At the 2010 VMAs later that month, Swift sang "Innocent", a song widely believed to be about West, which The Washington Post described as "a small masterpiece of passive aggressiveness, a vivisection dressed up as a peace offering". Music critics found Swift's performance overly serious and "petty". In October 2010, West remarked that it was "inaccurate" for Swift's Fearless to have been named Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards earlier that year. Speaking in November 2010, West said he failed to see what was "so arrogant" about his VMA interruption and described his actions as "selfless". He argued it was "just disrespectful" and "retarded" for Swift to be included in the same award category as Beyoncé. He added that "if it was the other way around" and Swift were an established artist who had "made the video of her career, do you think she would have lost to a brand new artist? Hell no!" He claimed that his interruption caused Swift to "have 100 magazine covers and sell a million first week". Also that month, he claimed that, "If I wasn't drunk, I would have been on stage longer ... Taylor never came to my defense at any interview. And rode the waves and rode it and rode it". At the Costume Institute Gala in May 2011, Swift and West came face-to-face on the red carpet. West was observed to hold "a hand out, and the two exchanged a studiedly casual, "down low" high five".

Swift toured throughout 2011 and early 2012 in support of Speak Now. As part of the thirteen-month, 111-date world tour, Swift played seven shows in Asia, twelve shows in Europe, 80 shows in North America and twelve shows in Australasia. The stage show was inspired by Broadway musical theatre, with choreographed routines, elaborate set-pieces, pyrotechnics and numerous costume changes. Swift invited many musicians to join her for one-off duets during the North American tour. Appearances were made by James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Shawn Colvin, Johnny Rzeznik, Andy Grammer, Tal Bachman, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, Nelly, B.o.B, Usher, Flo Rida, T.I., Jon Foreman, Jim Adkins, Hayley Williams, Hot Chelle Rae, Ronnie Dunn, Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. During the North American tour leg, Swift wrote different song lyrics on her left arm for each performance and has said that the lyrics should be viewed as a nightly "mood ring". Swift performed many acoustic cover versions during her North American tour. In each city, she paid tribute to a homegrown artist. She has said the cover versions allowed her to be "spontaneous" in an otherwise well-rehearsed show. The tour was attended by over 1.6 million fans and grossed over $123 million. Swift's first live album, Speak Now World Tour: Live, featuring all seventeen performances from the North American leg of the tour, was released in November 2011. In July 2012, James Taylor invited Swift to appear as a special guest during his Tanglewood set; they performed "Fire and Rain", "Love Story" and "Ours" together. Taylor, who first met Swift when she was eighteen, has said that, "we just hit it off. I loved her songs, and her presence on stage was so great".Taylor Swift speaks into a microphone, wearing a navy polka-dot dress and red heels
Swift speaking during a YouTube interview in 2011

At the 54th Grammy Awards in February 2012, Swift's song "Mean" won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance. She also performed the song during the ceremony. Bob Lefsetz, one of the most vocal critics of her 2010 Grammy performance, believes the song is addressed to him. Lefsetz had previously been a supporter of the singer's career, and Swift and Lefsetz had corresponded occasionally by email and telephone. Time felt she "delivered her comeback on-key and with a vengeance" while USA Today remarked that the criticism in 2010 seemed to have "made her a better songwriter and live performer". Swift won various other awards for Speak Now. She was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association in both 2010 and 2011. She was named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in both 2011 and 2012 and was named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2011. Swift was the American Music Awards's Artist of the Year in 2011, and Speak Now was named Favorite Country Album. She was also the recipient of three BMI Awards. Billboard named Swift 2011's Woman of the Year. Also that year, Billboard ranked her at number 15 in a list of the Top 20 Hot 100 Songwriters 2000–2011; she was the second highest ranking woman. Swift was ranked second on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 16 "Queen Of Pops" of the decade.

Swift contributed two original songs to The Hunger Games soundtrack album in March 2012. "Safe & Sound" was co-written and recorded with The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett. John Paul White has said working with Swift was "a revelation. She had some great ideas. We had complete freedom. It truly was a collaboration. We brought the melancholy and the darker angle. Taylor was bringing the melody and the chords." Rolling Stone described the song as "Swift's prettiest ballad" and wondered whether the alt-country folk song was "a one-off novelty, a trial balloon cred-move, or the stirrings of a "grown-up" style". Swift and The Civil Wars debuted a live version of the song at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville in January 2012. It was released as the album's lead single and, as of July 2012, has sold over one million copies in the United States. Swift's second contribution to the album, "Eyes Open", was written solely by the singer and produced by Nathan Chapman. In May 2012, Swift contributed vocals to "Both of Us", a Dr. Luke-produced single from B.o.B's second album Strange Clouds.

2012: Red and tour announcement

Swift's fourth studio album, Red, was released in October 2012. She wrote nine of the album's sixteen songs alone; the remaining seven were co-written with Max Martin, Liz Rose, Dan Wilson, Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody. Nathan Chapman served as the album's lead producer but Jeff Bhasker, Butch Walker, Jacknife Lee, Dann Huff and Shellback also produced individual tracks. Chapman has said he encouraged Swift "to branch out and to test herself in other situations". She has described the collaborative process as "an apprenticeship". Red examines Swift's attraction to drama-filled relationships; she believes that, since writing the record, such relationships no longer appeal to her. Musically, while there is experimentation with heartland rock, dubstep and dance-pop, it is "limited to a handful of tracks sprinkled among more recognisably Swiftian fare". The Guardian described Swift as a "Brünnhilde of a rockstar" and the album as "another chapter in one of the finest fantasies pop music has ever constructed." Jon Caramanica of The New York Times placed Red at number two on his end-of-year list, characterizing it as the album on which Swift "stops pretending she’s anything but a pop megastar, one with grown-up concerns, like how two bodies speak to each other and how taste in records can be a stand-in for moral turpitude." However, he conceded that, "though often great, it is her least steady album." The Times praised her "sublime" lyrics, particularly those on the "brooding" "All Too Well". Rolling Stone enjoyed "watching Swift find her pony-footing on Great Songwriter Mountain. She often succeeds in joining the Joni/Carole King tradition of stark-relief emotional mapping ... Her self-discovery project is one of the best stories in pop." However, Salon asserted that, "more than the token Serious Female Singer Songwriters (Joni Mitchell, Lucinda Williams, Carole King,) Swift reminds me of masters of quirky pop sincerity like Alex Chilton and Jonathan Richman." Swift at Good Morning America in 2012

As part of the Red promotional campaign, representatives from 72 worldwide radio stations were flown to Nashville during release week for individual interviews with Swift. She also appeared on many television chat shows and performed at award ceremonies in the US, the UK, Germany and Australia. Swift offered exclusive album promotions through Target, Papa John's and Walgreens. She became a spokesmodel for Keds sneakers, released her sophomore Elizabeth Arden fragrance, and continued her partnerships with Covergirl, Sony Electronics and American Greetings, as well as her unofficial brand tie-ins with Ralph Lauren and Shellys. The album's lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", was released in August 2012. The song became Swift's first number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, recording the highest ever one-week sales figures for a female artist.[243] Three further singles have been released: "Begin Again" (to country radio), "I Knew You Were Trouble" (to pop and international radio) and "22". Red debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.21 million copies; this marked the highest opening sales in a decade and made Swift the first female to have two million-selling album openings. The album also topped international sales charts in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. As of November 2012, Red had sold 2.8 million copies worldwide. In her career, as of November 2012, she had sold in excess of 26 million albums and 75 million song downloads. Swift will embark on the first leg of the Red Tour from March to September 2013, which will see her play 62 dates across North America.

Swift and Keith Urban will provide guest vocals for an upcoming Tim McGraw song entitled "Highway Don't Care". McGraw describes the track as “breezy yet complex"; it will feature on his Two Lanes of Freedom album, due for release on February 5, 2013.  Swift has written an as-yet-unreleased song with Justin Bieber. Scooter Braun, Beiber's manager, has said that the song was created with a specific project in mind; there is speculation that it will appear on Bieber's upcoming Believe Acoustic album Ed Sheeran, who features on Red and will appear as a support act on the Red Tour, has revealed that the pair plan to write further material together while touring.

Swift has received three nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards; the ceremony is due to take place on 10 February. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is nominated for Record of the Year. "Safe and Sound", Swift's soundtrack collaboration with The Civil Wars, is nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Song Written For Visual Media. "Safe & Sound" has also received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 70th Golden Globe Awards.Swift won three MTV Europe Music Awards in 2012, including the honors for Best Female and Best Live Act. She was named Best Female Country Artist at the 2012 American Music Awards. The Nashville Songwriters Association's 2012 Songwriter/Artist Award went to Swift for the fifth year in a row.