Music sensation Taylor Swift has been making waves in the country world since she released her first single, "Tim McGraw," in 2006. Three years later, the 19-year-old is a favorite of country and pop fans alike, and she's the only country artist to ever win a MTV Video Music Award.
Before Taylor was a singer, she was a poet. She won a national poetry contest when she was only 9 years old, and by the age of 12 she was putting her poems to music. "If you can put words together the right way, and if you put the right rhymes at the end of the right sentences, you can make words bounce of a page. That's always been my favorite thing," she says. "I've made sure that in any situation and with any record label, I'm allowed to write my own music."
At 14, Taylor moved from Pennsylvania to Nashville, where she played her demo CD for anyone who would listen. Her persistence certainly paid off—she was only 16 when "Tim McGraw" first hit the airwaves.
Taylor says her success comes from her determination to realize her dreams. "Being raised by two parents who brought me up with the idea that the world didn't owe me anything really helped," she says. "But I loved music, and so I started writing songs and playing guitar."
Even with all her hard work, Taylor says her career wouldn't be the same without her fans—she even knows some of them by name. "I love my meet-and-greets because I have a lot of girls who come through the line and I've met them six times before," she says. "You feel like you're getting together with your friends because a lot of the people in the crowd are at the age where they'd be my friends if I was in college somewhere right now."
When it comes to friends, Taylor says she surrounds herself with people who can relate to her life. "I have a lot of friends who do what I do. Either they're actresses or singers or things like that," she says. "But my best friend, Abigail, we met when I was 15. First day of school freshman year we sat next to each other in English. She wanted to be a swimmer and go off on a college scholarship for swimming and I wanted to be a singer. Now she's off at Kansas on a swimming scholarship and I'm singing."
Her day-to-day life might be different than when she met Abigail freshman year, but Taylor says she tries to maintain a normal attitude. "Nothing in my life now, as far as activities and the way people perceive me when I walk into a restaurant, is normal," she says. "But it's better [than I imagined it would be]. I always dreamed about what it would be like if I would walk in somewhere and I didn't have to introduce myself to people, they already knew my songs. That's crazy and I love it so much. It's one of the most amazing things that's actually happened to me."
Taylor says most of the songs she writes are about boys. But when it comes to dating, she says she's not someone who always needs a boyfriend. "I was 15 when I had my first boyfriend ... but as far as relationships, that's me making an exception," she says. "I'm better single, I think. [My life] is kind of busy, but I feel like if I were to meet the right person, I would make time for it."
For now, she's focusing her efforts on her career and moving into her new condo. "I bought it and I'm really excited because all my friends moved out and went to college last year and I'm getting those phone calls where they're like, 'Still living with Mom and Dad, huh?'" she says. "So now I'm working on moving out. I'm doing all kinds of construction. That's all I talk about now, tiles and paint and stuff. It's really boring."