Taylor Swift opens up
While opening for top-billed country acts like Brad Paisley, George Strait and Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift had her eye on more than their entertainment style.
“I’ve been watching their shows and making mental notes on how their stages were configured, seeing what things I wanted to emulate,” said the 19-year-old Swift. “Then if I was ever in the situation — lucky enough to have my name on the ticket — I would know exactly how I wanted things to be.”
That time has come.
Since April, Swift has been headlining in the 50-city Fearless tour, which stops Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center with special guests Kellie Pickler and “Gloriana.”
Hitting the Billboard charts with its 2009 debut single “Wild at Heart,” the Nashville-based band is the perfect compliment to Swift and her self-professed gal pal.
“Gloriana really fits into the mix because they are all young, hilarious and fun to hang out with,” she said. “I feel like I’m ahead of the curve, getting them on tour and I was so excited when they accepted.”
Swift describes her show as multi-dimensional, featuring a theatrical presentation of graphics and self-designed visual elements.
Considering the popularity of her blockbuster hit, “Love Story,” it’s no surprise that the set includes an illuminated fairy tale castle.
But the high-energy production, which also includes multiple instrument and costume changes, is offset by simplicity.
“I always like to incorporate an acoustic set whenever I can — just get out there with my guitar like I used to do in coffee houses when I was 13,” she said. “I love to take those opportunities and run with them.”
Much of what Taylor’s fans see on stage is rooted in her early life.
Influenced by Shania Twain, the Dixie Chicks and other less-than-traditional artists, she grew up realizing that good country music sometimes means stretching the boundaries.
“It limits you — puts you in a box — when you can use only certain instruments or lyrical structure,” she said.
Recent collaborations with rockers Def Leppard and hip-hop artist T-Pain may have been CMT-inspired, but they were also born in her imagination.
“As a little kid daydreaming in class of whether I’d be lucky enough to be able to do all of this someday, I’d think about collaborating with rock bands,” Swift said. “When the decision came about as to who to collaborate with, I tried not to let the factor of fear play into that decision — thinking about who may be turned off by it.”
Swift writes songs the way she hears them in her head and performs them the same way.
Whether singing “Should’ve Said No” in the falling rain or “Picture to Burn” before shooting flames, Taylor Swift has rhythm to her reasoning.
“I think that I’m lucky to have had time to put together a tour where every song has its own treatment,” she said.
Then there are the ballads like “White Horse,” the softer side of Swift’s music, where she has poured out her heart and soul.
Delivering those songs are favorite moments too.
“Looking down and seeing girls singing back to me and crying, I just hope that some of those young teenagers hear the words I’m singing to them and hopefully take the advice in that song,” Swift said.
Swift is already working on her next recording project, which she hopes to be even bigger and better than the namesake of her current tour.
Being the first platinum-selling album in 2009 and producing three hit radio singles to date, “Fearless” might be a hard act to follow.
But Swift, as usual, isn’t afraid of the challenge. She’s passionate about her career — and loving every single minute it.
“I’m thankful for every day I get to sing country music,” said Swift. “Hopefully, I’ll be doing this a while.”