Headliners: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift may be about the hottest thing going in country music, but you get the feeling she won't ever become a diva who gets caught up trying to bask in her own spotlight.
"I've wanted one thing since I was a little girl, and I'm not about to be the girl who wants one thing her whole life, then gets it and complains," Swift said during a recent teleconference interview.
That sentiment took on extra credence as Swift discussed her recent rise to stardom and showed plenty of indications that, at age 19, she's mature beyond her years and has an uncommonly firm grasp on her career.
"I'm just absolutely humbled and blown away when I get awards. Album of the Year this year [from the Academy of Country Music] was just completely unexpected. I honestly was expecting to hear somebody else's name get called," Swift said.
"When things like that happen for me, I just feel excited. I'm never going to stop being excited about stuff like that."
This clearly isn't your average rising young star. But then, she isn't an average talent, nor has she brought an average work ethic to her career.
By age 12, Swift was making regular visits to Nashville to work with songwriters. This led to a development deal with RCA Records at age 13 and a record deal with Big Machine Records a couple of years later.
At age 16, she released her self-titled debut album. About 14 months later, in December 2007, she scored her first No. 1 country hit, "Our Song." It was her third top-10 hit (following "Tim McGraw" and "Teardrops on My Guitar") and came a month after she earned the Country Music Association Horizon Award as country's best new artist.
Impressive accomplishments, to be sure, but that was just a warm-up for what's happened in the year and a half since.
With the release in November of her second CD, Fearless, Swift rocketed into the upper tier of country performers. She was the best-selling artist of 2008, moving some six million copies of her two albums.
Now she's launched her first tour as an arena headliner and is planning to make a big impression with her show.
"My show is something I've put a lot of thought and time into," Swift said. "I hope people walk away knowing I'm putting every single emotion I have out there for them to see."
Swift's success has clearly spread beyond country music. Her recent single, "Love Story," became the first country song to hit No. 1 on the Contemporary Hit Radio/Top 40 chart, and she's tapped into the teen audience that's made the likes of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus mega-stars.
This makes sense considering that Swift's catchy songs sit comfortably between easygoing pop and breezy country, and her lyrics believably capture the fevered rush of teenage love and the earth-shaking pain of breakups - despite the fact that Swift claims to have never been in love herself.
The crossover appeal suits Swift just fine.
"What I love about [being played on pop radio] is that I'm still a country artist and everyone knows that," Swift said. "So it's really cool to be able to remain true to who you are, always remember who brought you to the party, but hopefully bring new people to country music."
For a complete concert calendar, click to the A-List at ColumbusAlive.com
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 17
Where: Schottenstein Center, Campus