With 40 million albums and nearly 100 million singles sold worldwide, Taylor Swift is the most successful recording artist of the last two decades.
A new exhibition at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum, The Taylor Swift Experience, chronicles the 25-year-old singer’s life and times, with home videos, family photos and memorabilia offering proof that her career has been a long time coming.
Swift began laying the foundations for her musical career before she entered the third grade.
In shaky home videos, a cherubic 2-year-old Swift babbles her way through the childhood standard “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” At age eight, she sits by a Christmas tree – she grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania – and unwraps her first guitar.
In a video interview that runs alongside the exhibition, Swift said she took precocious inspiration from country singer LeAnn Rimes, who was 13 when she released her first album, Blue.
“I remember being really inspired as a 6 year old … that you could make an album at the age of 12 or 13,” Swift said.
“I think that’s what adjusted my ambition scale to be like: I really want to get a record deal early. I really want to try to do this young. I want to write songs as early as possible. Get me a guitar now!” she added.
As a sixth-grader, Swift performed the US national anthem at the opening of a Philadelphia 76ers basketball game.
“My mom and I were just jumping up and down we were so excited,” Swift told the local newspaper the Eagle Times.
At 14, she sang at the US Open tennis tournament and opened for country singer Charlie Daniels. Her family left Pennsylvania for Nashville, the US country music capital, to support her career.