Country-pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, born December 13, 1989, is one of the best-selling artists of all time.
Raised in Pennsylvania and first introduced to music by her grandmother, a professional opera singer, Swift began competing in karaoke contests at the age of 10 and learned the guitar at 12. After her family relocated to Tennessee, Swift put the country music industry on notice when she was discovered at a café night and offered a record deal.
The young talent’s first single, “Tim McGraw” peaked at no. 6 on the Billboard charts and served as the lead track for her thrice Platinum-selling self-titled debut album, released in 2006.
Swift gradually shifted her sound from country to pop and released four more albums — Fearless in 2008, Speak Now in 2010, Red in 2012 and 1989 in 2014. The enormous success of the latter three earned her a world record as the first act to have three million-selling weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The star has also won three Grammys and been honored in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
With over 90 million Instagram followers and a best friend squad that includes Selena Gomez and Karlie Kloss, it’s obvious that Swift has a fan base like no other. However, she has also been the center of polarizing controversies. She was heavily criticized in the past for dating several high-profile men, including Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer and Harry Styles, and later writing about them in her songs, often in a negative light.
Perhaps her biggest criticism, though, comes from a public feud with Kanye West. The rapper interrupted Swift’s Grammys acceptance speech in 2009, causing an initial dispute. While the two eventually made amends a few years later, they engaged in a much bigger disagreement in 2016 when West debuted his song “Famous” that refers to Swift with the lyric, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” Swift expressed disapproval of this but was accused of acting like an innocent victim after Kim Kardashian released a video that showed Swift approving the lyrics to West’s song on the phone.
Despite the critics, Swift continues to interact with her beloved and supportive fans, give to charity, perform, and remain on the dating scene, most recently with actor Tom Hiddleston, with whom she split in September 2016.