In the aftermath of country music star Toby Keith’s passing, a video has resurfaced on the internet of a young Taylor Swift praising Keith in 2005.
Keith was a major figure in Swift’s early years. He helped found the “Cruel Summer” singer’s first record label, Big Machine, along with Scott Borchetta, but left six months later to focus on his own label, Show Dog Nashville.
In an interview with local news station WSMV 4 Nashville, a 15-year-old Swift said of Keith: “You’re in the room with him and you can feel it. There’s a power there and you’re just like, 'Oh my God.' I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I won’t see him and be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Toby Keith.’”
Some music fans were surprised to find that Keith played such an integral role in Swift’s early career. “I had no idea Toby Keith gave Taylor Swift her start,” one social media user posted on X (formerly Twitter.)
I had no idea Toby Keith gave Taylor Swift her start.
I don’t know what to do with this information.
— Travis J Davidson (@TravisSkol) February 7, 2024
Swift has yet to publicly react to the news of Keith’s death, who passed away from stomach cancer on Monday. The two country music singers had very different political views, with Keith being most well known for his post-9/11 song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” The song was often used to express support for the war in Iraq.
Keith was also known for his vocal denunciation of The Chicks (previously known as the Dixie Chicks) after one of their singers, Natalie Maines, told a crowd she was ashamed of then president George W. Bush for his actions regarding the war in Iraq.
Keith responded by photoshopping a picture of Maines next to Saddam Hussein, and performing with that photo as a backdrop during his concerts.
While she didn’t call out Keith specifically, Swift has cited the backlash to Maines as a pivotal moment in her political consciousness in her 2020 Netflix documentary, Miss Americana.
“Throughout my whole career, label executives and publishers would say, ‘don’t be like the Dixie Chicks,’” Swift said.
Swift also had a well publicized falling out with the record label Keith helped found after its other co-founder, Scott Borchetta, sold the label to Scooter Braun, transferring the ownership of her first six albums to Braun.
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