All it took for Taylor Swift to go from small-town teen to a Grammy Award-winning singer was a guitar, some cowboy boots, and an incredible talent for writing relatable songs. Between her record-breaking albums and stadium-selling tours, she’s one of the biggest names in the industry for a reason.
But her love life and friendships have made just as much of a mark on her fans—after all, most inspired the lyrics behind her biggest hits. Whether you’re a die-hard Swiftie or a casual fan looking to learn something new, here’s a very detailed breakdown of Taylor’s meteoric rise to fame.
1989: A Young Taylor Swift
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Taylor was born on December 13, 1989, in Pennsylvania. After living on her family’s Christmas tree farm for most of her childhood, her family relocated to just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, when Taylor was 13 years old.
2004: A Record Deal
At 14 years old, Taylor was offered a record deal. The aspiring country singer signed with Big Machine Records in 2004.
2006: Her Big Debut
In 2006, the singer released her self-titled debut album, Taylor Swift. It featured “Tim McGraw,” which was her first top 40 hit.
2007: Looking the Part
With curly blonde hair, tricked out cowboy boots, and a collection of acoustic guitars, Taylor was a country star who was easy to love. The singer quickly became the genre’s hottest up-and-coming artist.
2007: Breakthrough Star
In the span of one year, Taylor managed to make a huge name for herself in country music. The 18-year-old accepted the award for Breakthrough Video of the Year for “Tim McGraw” at the 2007 CMT Music Awards.
2008: Becoming ‘Fearless’
In 2008, Taylor released her second studio album to an eager audience. Fearless was even more successful than her first, and was her first No. 1 album.
2008: Her First Grammy Awards
Taylor looked like a princess in a purple strapless corset ballgown at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. Her nomination for “Best New Artist” made the night even more special.
2008: Her First Met Gala
If this isn’t a sign that you’ve made it, we don’t know what is. The country music star wore a sleeveless gold sequin to the annual Met Gala in 2008.
2008: Working With the Jonas Brothers
After appearing in a Jonas Brothers music video, rumors swirled of a romance between Taylor and Joe Jonas. She later revealed that he ended their relationship—which ran its course from July to October 2008—with a phone call that lasted less than 30 seconds. Yikes!
2009: A Moment Ruined
Taylor experienced a huge career milestone at the MTV Music Video Awards, when she won the award for Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me.” But her acceptance speech was crashed by rapper Kayne West, who yelled, “Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” The moment led to a lot of bad blood between the stars.
2009: Taylor Squared
The singer’s next public relationship was referred to as “Taylor Squared.” She began dating Twilight actor Taylor Lautner in August 2009, but it fizzled by December. Taylor reportedly wrote a song about him on her next album: “Back to December.”
2010: A Whole Lot of Grammys
At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, Taylor picked up trophies for Album of the Year, Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song, and Best Country Album. She was nominated for four more, too.
2010: A Major Tour
Two years after the success of Fearless, Taylor dropped Speak Now. The album included hits like “Dear John,” “Enchanted,” and “Back to December.” The record, which quickly became a fan favorite, also spurred a 15-month world tour.
2010: Getting Into Film
The singer put down her guitar and stepped in front of the camera for an appearance in Valentine’s Day. Her film debut premiered in February 2010, just a few months after she broke up with her costar, Taylor Lautner.
2011: Winning Big
Taylor celebrates winning an American Music Award with her friend, Selena Gomez, in 2011. The singer ended up taking home three awards that evening—including the show’s biggest honor, Artist of the Year.
2012: Taylor and the Kennedys
At the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Ethel, Taylor was photographed with Rory and Ethel Kennedy. Soon after, the 22-year-old singer was linked to Conor Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (and who “Begin Again” is reportedly about).
2012: A Stylish Relationship
Once Taylor Swift started dating Harry Styles, fans couldn’t wait to hear what she’d say about him on her next album. She reportedly wrote “I Knew You Were Trouble,” about the One Direction star. Years later, she confirmed the obvious: “Style” was also about the British crooner, telling Rolling Stone, “We should have just called [that song] ‘I’m Not Even Sorry.'”
2012: The Release of ‘Red’
Her 2012 album, Red, was her first foray into pop music. The record was an instant hit, featuring hit songs like “All Too Well,” “22,” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
2013: A Pop Star Feud
In 2013, Taylor got into one of her first public celebrity feuds. The alleged disagreement between her and Katy Perry took place in 2013, but fans weren’t aware of it until the following year. When speaking about another star, Taylor told Rolling Stone: “She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me.” But don’t worry: They’ve since made up!
2014: From Country Queen to Pop Princess
In 2014, Taylor released 1989. The record marked the singer’s first full pop album, and sold more than 10 million copies. With her new era came a new haircut—the singer debuted a straight, blonde bob.
2014: Welcome to New York
That same year, Taylor moved from Nashville, Tennessee, to New York City. The singer purchased a Tribeca pad and was spotted all over the Big Apple.
2014: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
The singer’s friendship with model Karlie Kloss was allso prime news at the time. The two had become friends years before, but fans became obsessed when they saw “Kaylor” on stage together at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
2015: Dating a DJ
Taylor first stepped out with Scottish DJ Calvin Harris in 2015. They were linked until 2016, and she later addressed the breakup with the iconic graveyard scene from her music video for “Look What You Made Me Do.”
2015: Squad Support
After casting a mirage of celebrities in her “Bad Blood” music video, Taylor’s girlfriends were coined as “The Squad.” Her famous friends were, naturally, on hand to help her accept the MTV Video Music Award for the video.
2019: Taylor Takes a Stand
Once again, Taylor proved she wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself when she voiced her disdain when her former record label—and the masters to her first six albums along with it—was bought by Scooter Braun in 2019. She announced plans to re-record her songs in order to legally gain full control and ownership over her life’s work.
2019: The Premiere of ‘Cats’
The singer proudly signed onto the star-studded cast of Cats, a film adaption of the famous Broadway play. The movie was released in 2019.
2020: Opening Up to Fans
Taylor attended the premiere of her documentary, Miss Americana, at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020. In the film, the singer looked back on her career and spoke about her own personal experiences and struggles.
2020: ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’
Taylor released her eighth studio album in July, and fans were ecstatic. Folklore became the first album to sell one million copies in the U.S. that year and it hit No. 1 on the charts. The singer wasn’t done just yet: She released another album a few months later, Evermore.
2021: Taylor Gets Revenge
As a result of Scooter Braun owning the masters to her music, Taylor decided that as soon as her contract allowed—November 2020—she would begin re-recording and releasing her previous albums. She also announced plans to add bonus songs that never made it onto the originals. The singer released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) on April 9, 2021, and set a release date of November 12, 2021 for Red (Taylor’s Version).
2021: Another Grammy Win
The singer took home a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2021 for Folklore. This was her 11th Grammy win—and it certainly won’t be her last.