Taylor Swift: Country Music’s ‘Shut Up and Sing’ Mentality Kept Her From Speaking Out Politically
In the lead-up to the Aug. 23 release of her new album, Lover, Taylor Swift began sharing her political views publicly for the first time. The country-turned-pop superstar has, therefore, faced a number of questions about her views and her decision to share them with her fans, and in an interview with the Guardian, she admits that getting her start in country music is part of what kept her from speaking out for so long.
“I come from country music. The number one thing they absolutely drill into you as a country artist, and you can ask any other country artist this, is ‘Don’t be like the Dixie Chicks!’” Swift explains, referring to how the country trio was blackballed from the industry after Natalie Maines criticized then-president George W. Bush shortly before the invasion of Iraq.
“I watched country music snuff that candle out. The most amazing group we had, just because they talked about politics. And they were getting death threats," Swift continues. "They were made such an example that basically every country artist that came after that, every label tells you, ‘Just do not get involved, no matter what.’"
Swift is a big fan of the Dixie Chicks, and the group appears on one of the songs on Lover, "Soon You'll Get Better."
Prior to her first public political statement -- endorsing two candidates in Tennessee's 2018 midterm election -- Swift had used her highly public platform to share her opinions on more music-focused social issues, taking on both Spotify and Apple Music's payment models and suing a former Denver, Colo., radio DJ who groped her during a meet and greet. Swift explained in a previous interview that her decision to be more pointed with her statements stems from a conversation with her friend Todrick Hall, a dancer and choreographer who is gay and questioned Swift about what she would do if, some day, she had a son who was gay.
“I did [think my political leanings were clear]," Swift tells the Guardian, adding that she also worried that she "wasn’t educated enough" about politics and social issues to make public statements: "I hadn’t actively tried to learn about politics in a way that I felt was necessary for me, making statements that go out to hundreds of millions of people," she explains.
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