Thursday, December 10, 2009

Artist Of The Year: Taylor Swift


To say Taylor Swift had a remarkable year would be a comic understatement.

She sold more albums than any artist not named Michael Jackson. Her first headlining tour, Fearless 2009, sold out every show within minutes. She became the youngest woman to win the Country Music Assn.'s entertainer of the year award, and she set seemingly every chart record that exists.

But most important, she proved herself a graceful, timeless celebrity, handling hosting duties on "Saturday Night Live" and a rampaging Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards with equal aplomb. Billboard caught up with her on the phone from London to discuss her exhilarating last 12 months.

Billboard: Have you spent much time reflecting on your growth in the past year?

Taylor Swift: I do a lot of reflecting. I'll be driving down the streets I used to drive down in Nashville and my song will come on the radio or I'll pass my high school and something will remind me of how my life was before all of these crazy dreams started coming true. We wished for this, my parents and I, every single day without actually believing it would come true.

You've set a ton of records this year and won a slew of awards. I'd like to run down a couple. You became the youngest person to win the entertainer of the year award at the Country Music Assn. Awards.

I'd have to say that was the most mind-blowing experience, hearing my name called and winning that award. That is an award I had placed in an unattainable spot in my head. To be the youngest to win it makes me love country music even more for being so open-minded.

And you spent more weeks on the Billboard 200 than any other artist this decade.

It's really hard for me to wrap my mind around that one. In a business where longevity is what you aim for and hope for and strive for, having my album on the charts that long just absolutely floors me. That is such a long time. That's another one of those times where I've gotten a phone call and I really had to ask the person several times if they were serious and if they had really checked the math.

You were the 12th person in 35 years of "Saturday Night Live" to host and perform, and the first female country star in 20 years to do so, the last being Dolly Parton.

Hosting "Saturday Night Live" was the best week of my life. I started as a theater kid, so "SNL" has been up on a pedestal for me and I've always wondered what it would be like to actually experience it. You don't even notice you're so busy that you have to eat while walking to your next meeting. I was at 30 Rock at 7 a.m. until 1 or 2 at night a lot of times. I didn't want to leave.

I was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone in terms of how people have seen me in the past. To see the reviews come in and them being positive and the ratings come in and the fans were so wonderful and made a point to watch, it made me so thankful and so happy.

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