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Swift pledges $4M to Country Music Hall of Fame

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 – Taylor Swift pledged $4 million to fund a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, it was announced Thursday.

The more than 7,500-square foot space, which will encompass parts of 2 floors and feature 3 classrooms and a state-of-the-art children's exhibit gallery, is scheduled to open in early 2014.

Swift's gift is the largest capital contribution by an individual artist in the museum's 45-year history, prompting the museum to name the new space the Taylor Swift Education Center. The gift was made in conjunction with Working on a Building: Country Music Lives Here, the capital campaign that will finance the hall's expansion from 140,000 square feet to more than 350,000 square feet.

Swift has for years been a supporter of the museum, performing for the institution's 2007 All for the Hall New York, 2009 We're All for the Hall and 2010 All for the Hall Los Angeles benefits. She has also loaned the museum dresses, stage costumes and instruments for display; a free-standing, Taylor Swift multimedia exhibit debuted in May 2010.

"Taylor Swift represents country music's best traditions," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "She is a gifted singer-songwriter whose deeply personal songs resonate with music fans around the world, and a dynamic live performer whose open heart and engaging personality allow her to make even the largest stadium shows an intimate experience. Her many accomplishments - including being the youngest artist to single-handedly write and sing a number one country song - have made music history, and she has been an ambassador for country music, raising awareness of our genre literally around the globe."

"Taylor is an artist who has always been ahead of the curve," Young said. "By stepping forward to fund our education center, she has once again demonstrated that she has an eye on our industry's future. We are deeply indebted to Taylor for this wonderful gift, which will help us continue to fulfill our educational mission and serve our worldwide audience. It is not an overstatement to say that the Taylor Swift Education Center will have a profound impact on our museum, our new campus, our city and even our country. It will truly be the heart of our living museum, educating and inspiring young people and families, teaching them country music history and helping them to make meaningful connections between the music and their own lives."

The new education center will increase the museum's educational capacity up to seven-fold. On the third floor, two traditional classrooms and one "wet" classroom space will be used by museum educators for current educational offerings, including the museum's flagship program, Words & Music; distance learning programs; and family programs such as the Musical Petting Zoo.

The "wet classroom" will feature a utility floor, lending itself to the museum's Make Letterpress Art with Hatch Show Print family program and similar offerings. The additional classroom spaces will also allow the museum to develop new educational activities, potentially including after-school programs, teen-centric programs, multi-week workshops for youths, adults and senior citizens, and more. Additionally, the classroom spaces will be adjacent to a visible storage area and design studio; this space will feature thematic displays of artifacts, such as dozens of banjos, and allow students to observe museum curators at work. The children's gallery, situated on the second floor, will be a dedicated exhibit space for young patrons and will be filled with hands-on, interactive exhibits.

With Country Music Hall of Fame member Kris Kristofferson and Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford as honorary co-chairs, the museum launched its $75 million Working on a Building campaign in July 2011 with $56.8 million in cash and pledges already secured. Designed by Tuck-Hinton Architects, the expansion is expected to be completed in early 2014.

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Journey to Fearless DVD
Part Behind The Music style documentary and part concert film, Taylor Swift's new Blu-ray release offers an interesting hybrid approach to the typical live performance video - an approach that hits more than it misses. "Journey To Fearless" focuses on Swift's meteoric rise from aspiring grade-school singer/songwriter to award-winning country and pop megastar while sprinkling in live performances. Hardcore Swift fans will find a lot to love on this single-disc set (which is also »»»
Speak Now CD review - Speak Now
Taylor Swift has made the best CD of her young career with her fourth CD. The biggest difference is that Swift's singing, spotty on previous releases and live performances, is far far superior here. Swift wrote all 14 songs here, which like her other albums tend to deal with relationships that have gone south. Swift's songwriting always has been one of her strengths, and that continues to be the case here - both lyrically and musically. Put simply, Swift knows a lot about penning »»»
Fearless CD review - Fearless
Taylor Swift took the county world by storm with her huge selling debut and its five hit singles. With a huge marketing push and myspace, Swift was on her way. Kind of like an Avril Lavigne for the teen female country set. Sophomore slump? There's no indication of that. Swift once again writes her material - all 13 songs here with help sometimes from Liz Rose, Colbie Caillat and John Rich. Swift writes of what she knows about - relationships and teen love come and gone in songs speak to her fans. »»»