Taylor Swift Surprises Guests at Nashville’s Grammy-Nominees Party

Hunter Hayes, Lee Ann Womack, Brandy Clark, Others Parade Red Carpet

Sure, there was a giant asteroid that came close to Earth on Monday (Jan. 26), but the real news is that Taylor Swift showed up unannounced that same evening at the Grammy-nominees party in Nashville.

Now living primarily in New York City and performing as a pop artist, the former country wunderkind mingled with the partygoers at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel for nearly an hour. She posed amiably for photos with anyone who could shoulder their way through the crowd to her side — and dozens did.

Instead of walking in on the red carpet, Swift arrived and left by a side door. Two women handlers appeared to be running interference for her but doing so quite gently.

The annual event drew a glittering array of nominees and previous award winners, including Hunter Hayes, Lee Ann Womack, Brandy Clark, Keb’ Mo’, T. Graham Brown and John Prine.

Ed Rode/Wire Image
Ed Rode/WireImage
Ed Rode/Wire Image

Swift is currently up for three Grammys: record of the year, song of the year and best pop solo performance, all for “Shake It Off.”

Among the artists who edged their way in for a photo with Swift was bluegrass queen Rhonda Vincent, whose Only Me is nominated for best bluegrass album. She beamed like a regular fan as she emerged from the clamoring throng.

Sean Della Croce, a senior in entertainment industry studies at Nashville’s Belmont University, returned to a table filled with friends to announce she had told Swift her name had come up that very day in class on German philosopher Immanuel Kant. A puzzled Swift said she hoped the reference was a good one.

By now, the Grammy nominees party has become something of a Nashville institution. Nominees and their handlers walk the red carpet past TV cameras in the brightly lighted main room while the eating, drinking and schmoozing takes place in an a darker and more intimate adjacent room, dotted with food tables and bars.

This year — as in most years past — the live music was provided by the smooth-as-silk Birdsong jazz trio.

As the music played on, guests foraged through a menu that included crab dip, macaroni and cheese, fried green tomatoes, steak tartare on toasted crostini, brie and peach beggar’s purse and chocolate and peanut butter tarts.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, now concluding his second and last term of office, spoke to the crowd briefly about music’s impact on the city’s image.

“People want to be in Nashville,” he declared, “because of you folks.”

The Nashville chapter of the Recording Academy — the organization that awards Grammys — has nominees in 23 categories of music this year.

The 57th annual Grammy awards show will be telecast Feb. 8 on CBS.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.