When Taylor Swift first hit Nashville, she faced competition from many aspiring female country stars with beautiful faces and large voices. She had bigger ideas. "I had to figure out a way to stand out and be different. For me, that came through songwriting," she says. As writer of 11 tracks, including her first hit single, "Tim McGraw" (from her gold-certified, self-titled debut CD), she set new standards for every would-be teenage country star.
"In my songs, I like to address things I've actually gone through," Swift says. "I'll be the first person to admit that I'm 17 years old. I've never gotten married or had a kid, so I write about what I know. Sometimes, I write about things that my friends have gone through in high school. There's a lot of drama in high school."
The Pennsylvania native displayed her interest in songwriting after her family relocated from a rural farm to the city of Reading. "It was very natural growing up on a farm. Then we moved into a city, and I had a lot of trouble there, because I had been singing a bunch," Swift says. "And everybody knew I wanted to do it, so I was a social outcast at one point. At that point in my life, it was tough to go through, but I think it gave me a keen sense of observation. Being in classes and not getting a chance to talk to people a lot, I found myself watching people. You learn how to watch people and see their movements and observe how they communicate with each other. I think that allowed me to write songs about relationships."
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scheduled to perform on Friday, February 2
Now she finds time for home-schooling while touring and writing new songs. "It's tough writing on the road, because you're never alone. You're always around people," she says. "It's tough, but I definitely write a lot on the road."
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Despite being a celebrated country artist, she's still humble enough to realize that there's room to grow and mature. Her second single, "Teardrops on My Guitar," deals with unrequited love. She's currently touring with Ronnie Milsap and George Strait, and has already penned new songs for her forthcoming sophomore CD. Future plans also include a spring/summer tour opening for Brad Paisley.