After Winning Four CMA Awards, Taylor Swift Is Already Seeking Her Next Challenge

At 19, Her Latest Victories Include Entertainer and Female Vocalist of the Year

Taylor Swift enthusiastically greeted reporters in the CMA Awards pressroom Wednesday night (Nov. 11) at Nashville’s Sommet Center less than an hour after winning the night’s top trophy — entertainer of the year.

Asked how she was going to celebrate the evening, Swift replied, “I owe so much of that entertainer of the year award to the people who set up that stage every night and the people behind the scenes who are taking calls and sending e-mails and know how to work a fax machine. Those people are going to be the ones I spend time with tonight and jump up and down and hug nonstop.”

Although she deflected inquiries about the Kanye West incident MTV Music Awards and questions about her friendship with Twilight film star Taylor Lautner, Swift cheerfully fielded questions from various journalists about her fast rise to stardom, her overwhelming schedule and meeting her heroes in country music.

Onstage tonight, you said everything you had ever wanted had happened to you. You’re 19 years old. How do you go about redefining what your life is supposed to be about at this stage of the game?

Swift: That is a very good question. Well, tonight I’m just gonna dance around with my band and my crew and my record label and freak out because honestly I never imagined that the unattainable thing that I always held in my mind and my imagination would happen to me at 19. I couldn’t be more grateful, but I love a challenge. Right now, that challenge is to find that next challenge.

You’ve kept everybody in here so busy this year trying to keep up with you. Do you consider yourself an ambassador for country music?

I feel so lucky to be able to sing country music and I feel so lucky to be able to take trips to New York City for the VMAs or go to New York for Saturday Night Live and sing country music in those places. I have such a gratitude to the people who have been open-minded toward me. When I first went to country radio, nobody was used to playing a song about the guy who sat next to her in class. And I am going to be forever grateful and forever proud to be able to play country music regardless of wherever the venue may be.

The last couple of years have been chock full of moments for you. What stands out the most for you? Is it all a blur?

I think about 37 minutes ago is what stands out most for me in my whole life. I didn’t expect that I was going to win entertainer of the year, so I’m just … I’m just, you know, at a loss for words, absolutely. Honestly, before tonight, SNL really stands out in my mind as one of those things that I’m really going to look back on whenever I have a bad day, because that was the coolest week of my life. I felt like I was part of such a tradition and getting to make friends with those people who make me laugh every Saturday, that was something that I am never, ever going to forget. So, Saturday Night Live. And tonight was really fun for me.

Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell and Reba McEntire have cited you as one of the amazing stars of country music. Can you wrap your head around that?

Thank you for telling me that because I didn’t know. Thank you. Wow! … It’s such an honor to know that Reba McEntire even knows my name, and Barbara Mandrell and people I have looked up to for so long. Reba has been so wonderful to me, as well as Faith Hill, who has been my idol. It’s really something when you spend your whole life looking up to these women who stand on a stage and know how to wow a crowd and make you want to be like them. When you actually get to be around them and you realize that they’re really as awesome as you thought they were, it’s a really unique and special moment. I’m so thankful to have gotten to experience that moment with people like Reba and Faith Hill and Shania Twain and Barbara Mandrell. Thanks for telling me about that. That’s really nice.

How did this happen so fast, and how have you handled all this success?

I feel very lucky to have been able to experience this in a way that I see it as having happened fast, and then I also see there was a gradual build. I’ve been able to attend several CMA shows, so I know what this means. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful to have attended when I was 15 years old and had just signed a record deal and then again when I was 16. And then when I was 17, winning the Horizon Award, and last year, having just put out Fearless, that was an honor to go and perform. Every single year of my life, I’ve watched the CMA Awards — every single year that I can remember. … So I know what this means, and that’s why I am so at a loss for words right now. So, addressing the pace of my career, I look at it from both ways. Of course, it feels like just yesterday I was knocking on doors in Nashville, going, “Hey, will you listen to my demo?” But then again, I feel so lucky to know you guys and to talk to you in pressrooms and to have been an opening act for every single person I was nominated against in the entertainer of the year category. I’m just very appreciative right now.