Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Andrea Gardner (née Finlay), a homemaker, and Scott Kingsley Swift, a stockbroker. Her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, was an opera singer. Swift has a younger brother, Austin.
When Swift was in fourth grade, she won a national poetry contest with a three-page poem, "Monster In My Closet". At the age of ten, a computer repairman showed her how to play three chords on a guitar, sparking her interest in learning the instrument. Afterwards, Swift wrote her first song, "Lucky You". When Swift was 12, she devoted an entire summer to writing a 350-page novel, which remains unpublished. She began writing songs regularly and used it as an outlet to help her with her pain from not fitting in at school. Swift was a victim of bullying, and spent her time writing songs to express her emotions. She also started performing at local karaoke contests, festivals, and fairs.
Swift began to regularly visit Nashville, Tennessee, and work with local songwriters. When she was 14, her family relocated to Nashville. Her first major show was a well-received performance at the Bloomsburg Fair. In Tennessee, Swift attended Hendersonville High School, but was subsequently homeschooled for her junior and senior years. In 2008, she earned her high school diploma.
Swift's greatest musical influence is Shania Twain. Her other influences include LeAnn Rimes, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, and Swift's grandmother. Although her grandmother was a professional opera singer, Swift's tastes always leaned more toward country music. In her younger years, she developed a love for Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton. She also credits the Dixie Chicks for demonstrating the impact that one can have by "stretching boundaries"
In 2006, she released her debut single "Tim McGraw", then her self-titled debut album, which was subsequently certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. In November 2008, Swift released her second album, Fearless, and the recording earned Swift four Grammy Awards, including the Album of the Year, at the 52nd Grammy Awards. Fearless and Taylor Swift finished 2008 at number-three and number-six respectively, with sales of 2.1 and 1.5 million. Fearless topped the Billboard 200 for 11 non-consecutive weeks. Swift was named Artist of the Year by Billboard Magazine in 2009. Swift released her third album Speak Now on October 25, 2010 which sold 1,047,000 copies in its first week.
In 2008, her albums sold a combined four million copies, making her the best-selling musician of the year in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Forbes ranked Swift 2009's 69th-most powerful celebrity with earnings of $18 million, 2010's 12th-most powerful celebrity with earnings of $45 million and 2011's 7th-most powerful celebrity with earnings of $45 million, too. Swift was ranked the 38th Best Artist of the 2000–10 decade byBillboard. In January 2010 Nielsen SoundScan listed Swift as the most successful digital artist in music history with over 34.3 million digital tracks sold. On June 2011, renowned site The Boot named Swift and Carrie Underwood The Country Royalty, as they were the only female country artists to be ranked on Rolling Stone's Queens of Pop list. As of March 2011, she has sold over 20 million albums and 34.3 million singles worldwide.