Taylor Swift is determined to avoid the pitfalls that have tripped up other precocious stars, says Matt Allen in Q. The key, says the 19-year-old country music phenom, is to stay focused on her art and to always remember that the myriad distractions that attend fame and wealth are just that—distractions. Such determination has been apparent since she was a musical prodigy growing up in Hendersonville, Tenn. “When I was 13, I was told that country music didn’t appeal to anybody other than 35-year-old women. I decided to prove them wrong.” So Swift began grinding out songs, playing guitar so relentlessly that her fingers bled. She turned down invitations to dances and other typical teenage activities if it meant missing a gig. She graduated high school with a 4.0 grade-point average after finishing her junior and senior years in just 12 months of home-schooling. Swift still leaves nothing to chance, saying she neither drinks nor smokes—nor is she tempted to. “I’m not a party girl. I’m a control freak in the sense that I want to be responsible for my actions and words. I think if I was to get wasted at a club one night and couldn’t remember what I had said the next day, that would scare me. Also, I would have a problem lying to my parents about that. Besides,” she says, smiling, “it’s not legal for me to drink right now.”
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