July 16, 2009 — She's not yet 20 years old, but she's already headlining her own tour. Clearly, Taylor Swift is a fast study, and she continues to figure out ways to make a mark using things that work for other artists and avoiding the things that don't.
She has, for example, incorporated a spot in her show where she plays piano during an intense ballad, and her passionate physical movements at the keyboard mirror pop singer-songwriter Tori Amos more than any country artist. Taylor's used outside influences, in part, because she watched Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks on her way up and recognized there was value in doing things that were considered left of center.
"It limits you — puts you in a box — when you can use only certain instruments or lyrical structure," she told West Virginia's Graffiti magazine.
Taylor's learned from some of the best in the business. Not only did she grow up listening to LeAnn Rimes and Faith Hill, she picked up opening slots early in her career on tours headlined by Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley.
"I've been watching their shows and making mental notes on how their stages were configured, seeing what things I wanted to emulate," she said. "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's exactly where Taylor is now, headlining the Fearless Tour with opening acts Kellie Pickler and Gloriana, currently in country's Top 20 for the first time with "Wild At Heart."
"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."
Taylor, Kellie and Gloriana are busy this weekend, playing Twin Lakes, Wis., on Thursday; Columbus, Ohio, on Friday; and Charleston, W.Va., on Saturday. The Thursday show is part of the four-day Country Thunder USA festival. Other acts on the bill that day include Jack Ingram, the Bellamy Brothers, Mark Chesnutt and Burns & Poe.