November 12, 2008

Taylor Swift’s Star is Rapidly on the Rise

By Brian Mansfield

Last year, Taylor Swift won the Country Music Association's award for best new artist, which is given to performers whose careers surge forward. One year and 2 million album sales later, she's competing to knock Carrie Underwood from her lofty perch as CMA's female vocalist of the year.

Not that Swift believes she has much of a shot.

"Well, I'm not going to win female vocalist," says Swift, less modestly than matter-of-factly. "It's just an honor to be nominated the year after I won the Horizon."

You could certainly make a case for Swift: No other country album released since her 2006 debut has outsold its 3.5 million copies -- not even Underwood's Carnival Ride. Second album Fearless, new this week, could make Swift a superstar well beyond the Music City limits. The single Love Story sits atop USA TODAY's country airplay chart, and top 40 and adult-contemporary radio programmers are adding it to their playlists left and right.

Meanwhile, a breakup with Joe Jonas (by telephone, no less) and a rumor that she's pregnant ("Impossible," she says) have put the 18-year-old singer in a brighter-than-ever spotlight -- and in the cross hairs of paparazzi viewfinders on both coasts.

"They're like, 'So, tell us about this pregnancy rumor!'" Swift says. "And I'm like, 'How about the four-star review I got in Rolling Stone and the record I'm really proud of? Let's talk about that.'"

The ramp-up to the album's release included Monday media rounds in New York, which began on Good Morning America and ended with an appearance at Glamour magazine's Women of the Year awards.

"I can be tired, but I'm never going to be tired of it," Swift says.

The most hectic part of Swift's schedule wraps up tonight with a performance on tonight's CMA Awards show -- and the subsequent after-parties. Fortunately, a little downtime isn't far away.

"I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with my mom's family in St. Louis," Swift says. "It's fun to go there and be with people who are loud and wonderfully obnoxious." (c) Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. <>