The Journey of Taylor Swift

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On October 8 2007, I went to the Apple Store in SoHo in New York City for a special concert featuring an up-and-coming country star. There were only a dozen people in the audience... even the customers in the store barely turned their heads when the young girl started singing. Boy they must be regretting it now.

Flash forward two years and the same young artist is packing Madison Square Garden -- with fans ranging from tykes to grandparents, little brothers to businessmen -- all rockin' out to her first show at New York City's legendary venue.

Welcome to the journey of Taylor Swift... from country teen singer to pop culture superstar.

The first time I chatted with Taylor was just a few weeks before her debut self-titled album was released in October 2006... and I was immediately taken with her genuineness. She was unlike any other star I'd ever interviewed... her enthusiasm was so real and her passion for her music so heartfelt. She was at the airport getting ready to board a flight, talking from her cell, but she just had this energy and spirit that radiated over the phone that made it clear that she was going to be the next It girl.

Sure it took time, but the one thing that always stuck whenever I talked to Taylor over the years was how real she truly is. She always says what's on her mind, and is completely true to herself. None of that fronting for the press or just saying what she thinks people want to hear. And seeing that made it clear that she was no overnight sensation... she put in the hours and made sacrifices in her life to really get where she is today -- and surely deserves every ounce of success she's getting!

And that's why it was especially touching to see her perform again in New York City... but this time instead of 12 people in the audience, there were tens of thousands of people all screaming her name.

The moment was definitely not lost on Taylor... after surprising fans by appearing in the back of the stadium, she walked through the audience, hugging and saying, "I love you" to lucky fans along her path. And when she got back to the front, she just stood there soaking it all in... for a few minutes. She had made it.

Her dreams had come true... and it was obvious every person in the audience could feel that they were part of a special moment in Taylor's life.

xoxo, Rachel Chang J-14 Executive Editor

(Me and Taylor, at the Apple Store in 2007 (left) and backstage at Madison Square Garden (right))

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