Toby Keith and Taylor Swift connection explained - Hindustan Times
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Toby Keith and Taylor Swift connection explained

Feb 06, 2024 11:55 PM IST

Toby Keith played a huge role in pushing Taylor Swift's carreer into motion in Nashville. Here's how it all started.

It has been a sad day for country music, with the news of Toby Keith passing away coming to light on February 6, 2024. The legendary maestro left for the heavenly abode on the night of February 5. At 62, he went peacefully after a long arduous fight with stomach cancer. In light of this unfortunate news breaking millions of music lovers' hearts, an old video forging a connection between him and a fellow ex-country girl has resurfaced.

Toby Keith was sort of Taylor Swift's business partner during her initial music days as a Nashville country star.(Instagram)
Toby Keith was sort of Taylor Swift's business partner during her initial music days as a Nashville country star.(Instagram)

The country girl in question is the modern pop icon Taylor Swift. Extracted from what was possibly Swift's first TV interview, this video from 2005 shows her honouring Keith's mark on the genre of country music. “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”, Taylor had said in the WSMV4 interview.

How did the meeting of these two worlds come about? The credit, by default, goes to the late music star.

What is the connection between Toby Keith and Taylor Swift?

The Oklahoma icon undeniably influenced the young Grammy winner's career. The Love Story singer's initial professional chapters are filled with country highlights. She moved to Nashville in the early 2000s to find her wings as an artist. And there, she came face to face with the phenomenal music genius himself.

Also read: Five things we know about Taylor Swift's new album The Tortured Poets Department

“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", the canon event evidently left a significant mark on Swift back then.

Around 2005, Scott Borchetta founded Big Machine Records. It ultimately became Swift's first record label, just as she was the first artist signed to Big Machine. Borchetta had spotted Swift in the Bluebird Cafe of Nashville in 2004, but the final deal came through only with Toby Keith playing an instrumental role in getting her the deal.

Both Borchetta and Keith had left DreamWorks Records around the same time. While the former started Big Machine Records, Keith eventually created his label, Show Dog Nashville. After some time, both these labels partnered up to make way for the umbrella roof of Big Machine Label Group.

Since both the labels had been working so closely, Borchetta had even told CMT in 2005 that he wanted people to “think of this as one label with two A&R sources”. While Borchetta's label was the one to sign Swift, Keith and his resources helped the label find its stable ground.

Even after Big Machine Records had found its launching pad, Keith still had stakes in the label. So, Keith possibly even ended up earning some money through Swift.

A fan on X even claimed, “NGL a Taylor Swift tribute to Toby Keith could bring a lot of healing to America”. Another reminded, “RIP to the great Toby Keith — all you Swifties out there remember, without Toby there may have never been no Taylor Swift. RIP legend”.

It's well known that Swift's ties with Big Machine Records ended up souring over the years, especially as Scooter Braun's company took over in 2019. Nevertheless, the old roots of her music career make for a sweet story with Toby Keith at the centre.

Swift is yet to comment on this sad news of Keith's passing. On the other hand, the country music industry has come together to mourn the beloved singer. Carrie Underwood took to her X (formerly Twitter) page to honour his memory. An extract from her parting message reads, “a true blue COWBOY just made his ride up to heaven”. Jason Aldean also branded today “a sad day for Country music and its fans” in his X post. Country band Old Dominion also hailed Keith a “a true trail blazer” in addition to more heartwarming wishes from others.

Toby Keith's songs like Should've Been a Cowboy, I Love This Bar, Red Solo Cup, and more will live on, while the singer himself will be deeply missed.

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