On November 6, Taylor Swift became only the second person ever to be awarded the Country Music Association’s Pinnacle Award. That honor is given to an artist who’s achieved the highest degree of worldwide success and recognition. The other recipient? Garth Brooks in 2005. The singer-songwriter recently opened the new Taylor Swift Education Center
at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
When Swift was growing up, she took music classes at her school. But when she wanted to take more advanced lessons, her parents were able to provide them for her.
"A lot of my music education happened outside of school," she explained. "It happened because my parents were willing to drive me to countless children’s theater, local theater productions or take me to guitar lessons.”
Swift has credited both her wide ranging musical education and being exposed to all kinds of music as a child as important to her development as a songwriter and performer.
Last year, Swift donated $4 million to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum so that other young people might have some of those same opportunities to learn about music. The Taylor Swift Education Center opened in October, and the singer was on hand to show off three new classrooms and a “learning lab” space.
“There will be demonstrations and instruments that kids can try without having to spend money and buy one for themselves," she announced. " If they want to come here and they want to learn or they want to hear a songwriter talk about what it is to really craft a song - the fact is that can happen here is really unbelievable.”
Swift told the crowd that she will try to come to the center and take part in programs when she can. Before cutting the ribbon to open the education center, she donated a piece of her own musical history to the Hall of Fame: a 12-string Koa Taylor guitar, one she wrote her earliest songs on. The Country Music Hall of Fame is a place that means a lot to Taylor Swift - it’s where she signed her very first record deal.
“That’s a memory I’m never gonna forget. You can sign your record deal anywhere and a lot of the time it happens in some boardroom or conference room, or it gets faxed over," she said. "But to have it happen here was something that I was so proud of.”
Swift is gearing up for another leg of her "Red" tour - the next dates are in New Zealand and Australia. Then, it’s back to the studio and more work on her next CD, which is due next North American autumn.