THEN AND NOW: How Taylor Swift went from tween country wannabe to global pop superstar

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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

For the past 10 years, Taylor Swift’s career hasn’t slowed down for a moment.

The 26-year-old singer has released five albums, sold out numerous world tours, won hundreds of awards – including 10 Grammys – and broken countless records.

But after all of her success, the singer is now ready to step back from it all and take a break.

She told Vogue in her cover story for the May issue, “Honestly, I never relax, and I’m excited about being able to relax for the first time in ten years.”

As Swift takes a breather from her ambitious career, here’s a look back at how exactly the Pennsylvania-raised Swift made her way from country hopeful to country star, only to then conquer pop music around the globe.


Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989, and grew up on a Christmas-tree farm in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUSTIN!!!!! Thanks for 24 years of LOLs. @austinkingsleyswift

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Source: The New Yorker


When she was 10, Swift watched a program about how Faith Hill became a country singer and decided that she wanted to do the same. After persistent pestering, she traveled to Nashville and handed CDs of covers she recorded to producers along Music Row. She was 11.

Today I begin my 26th year of freaking out over stuff.

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Source: CMT


She didn’t get the attention she wanted, but rather than give up, the aspiring singer began to write her own music and learned how to play guitar.

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Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in 2007.
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Source: CMT


A 12-year-old Swift performed the National Anthem at a 76ers game in 2002.


Around the same time, she was taking trips down to Nashville to meet songwriters, and when she was 13, she got a development deal with RCA Records.

Source: CMT


Though that deal didn’t go anywhere, it did lead to her becoming the youngest songwriter to sign with the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. So at the age of 14, Swift and her family moved to Nashville so she could pursue a country-music career.

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Taylor Swift arrives at the 41st Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in 2006.
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Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Source: The New Yorker


She ended up signing to Big Machine Records, which only launched in 2005 and where she’s remained. A year later, the label released her self-titled debut album. She was 16.

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Taylor Swift arrives at the 41st Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in 2006.
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Big Machine Records

Source: CMT


Her second single, “Teardrops on my Guitar,” was her highest-charting song from her first album and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Source: Billboard


She embarked on tours, conducted meet and greets, and opened for numerous country artists, such as Rascal Flatts, George Strait, and Brad Paisley, which helped spread her name and music around. She also earned her first Grammy nomination for best new artist.

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Taylor Swift arrives at the 50th annual Grammy awards in 2008.
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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

She followed that up with her second album, “Fearless,” which was released in 2008 to even more success.

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Taylor Swift performs during the 2008 Stagecoach Country Music Festival.
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Led by the popularity of the pop-y, polished “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me,””Fearless” became the best-selling album in the US in 2009. “You Belong with Me” became her highest-charting single to date, reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100.


She embarked on her first headlining tour, cowrote songs for the “Hannah Montana” movie, shared vocals on Boys Like Girls’ “Two Is Better Than One,” and became the first country artist to win an MTV Video Music Award.

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Taylor Swift arrives at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
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Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

“Fearless” won four Grammys, and Swift became the youngest album of the year winner at the age of 20.

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Taylor Swift accepts the album of the year award during the 2010 Grammys.
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Swift’s ability to write relatable love songs and cross over to the pop world catapulted her career from a small-town country artist to popular country star.

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Taylor Swift plays during the 2010 CMA Music Festival.
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Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Her third album,”Speak Now,” debuted at No. 1, and her tour resulted in the release of her first live album. She won two Grammys.

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Taylor Swift performs onstage during the “Speak Now World Tour” at Madison Square Garden in 2011.
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Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Swift wrote two songs for “The Hunger Games” soundtrack, and her collaboration with The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett earned another Grammy.


Swift took a bigger step toward pop music (and ditched her signature curls) for 2012’s “Red,” whose hit song, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” became her first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.


She made the full transition to pop phenom with the release of “1989.” She became the first artist to have three albums sell more than a million copies in the first week when “1989” joined “Speak Now” and “Red” on that list.

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Taylor Swift performs during her “1989 World Tour” in 2015.
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Christopher Polk/Getty Images for TAS

“Blank Space,” “Shake It Off,” and “Bad Blood” (featuring Kendrick Lamar) all reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s charts. “1989” was the best-selling album of 2014.


The Grammy album of the year win for “1989” made Swift the only female to win that award twice.

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Taylor Swift poses with her Grammys from the 2016 show.
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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

She’s even done some acting, including a guest spot on “CSI” in 2009 and hosting “Saturday Night Live” that same year, and she made her feature-film debut in 2010’s “Valentine’s Day.” Her latest role was a supporting part in 2014’s “The Giver.”

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“Valentine’s Day.”
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Warner Bros.

Forbes named her the eighth-highest-paid celebrity in the world last year, raking in $80 million.

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Jesse Grant/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner

Source: Forbes


As her sense of fashion has evolved over the years, the singer has become a style icon and will cochair the Met Gala in May.

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Taylor Swift at the 2014 Met Gala.
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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Source: Vogue


She told Vogue, “I can look back at an old photo and tell you roughly what year it’s from. Going through different phases is one of my favorite things about fashion. I love how it can mark the passage of time. It’s similar to my songs in that way — it all helps identify where I was at in different points of my life.”

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Taylor Swift in 2008.
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Scott Gries/Getty Images

Source: Vogue


Though she isn’t stepping away from music, she is ready to take a break from constantly writing, recording, and touring. As she told Vogue, “I’m always going to be writing songs.”

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Getty Images/Christopher Polk

Source: Vogue