Taylor Swift has completely transformed since her first ACMs

Taylor Swift performed at the 2020 Academy of Country Music Awards on Sept. 16, 2020, marking her return to the country music award show after seven years. The last time she took the stage was in 2013 when she sang “Highway Don’t Care” alongside Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, according to Insider

This time around, she returned to her country roots by performing the song “Betty” off of her eighth studio, Folklore, live for the first time at Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry House. Swift kept her acoustic performance simple as she played her guitar while sitting on a stool in the center of the stage. She wore tan slacks and a sparkly, red long-sleeved sequin top, which she paired with a simple up-do hairstyle. People reported that the singer “did her own hair, makeup and styling” for the event.

Did you know the last time Swift sang at the Academy of Country Music Awards she hadn’t fully transitioned into a pop star and was still very much a country singer? In fact, she’s completely transformed since her first-ever ACM Awards. Keep scrolling to see just how much Swift has changed.

Taylor Swift made her ACM debut in 2006

Though Taylor Swift’s first-ever appearance at the ACM Awards was in 2006, it wasn’t until 2007 that she made her award show performance debut, taking the stage to perform her song “Tim McGraw” off of her 2006 self-titled debut studio album. The then 16-year-old took the stage with her acoustic guitar in her arms and confidently sang the song in front of country star Tim McGraw himself, according to Rolling Stone, who was seated in the front row next to his wife Faith Hill. (That same year, Swift also earned her first ACM nomination for Top New Female Vocalist, per Taste of Country.)

When her performance came to a close, she walked up to McGraw and introduced herself to him (above) for the very first time in front of millions of people. “Hi, I’m Taylor,” she said before shaking his hand and hugging him twice. The budding superstar then turned to the camera and excitedly mouthed “That’s Tim McGraw.” At the time, no one knew just how famous she was going to become …

Taylor Swift went from country star to pop sensation

Taylor Swift’s 2020 ACM Awards performance marked her return to the country music stage following her transition to the pop genre. Though she penned Little Big Town’s 2016 country hit “Better Man,” according to Wide Open Country, “Betty” is “the first of Swift’s singles to hit the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart since [2012’s] Red.” (The album Red was also the last album Swift marketed in the country genre before she shifted to pop music with her album 1989 in 2014.)

In 2015, Swift’s mom presented her daughter with the Milestone Award at the ACM Awards. During her speech, she officially said goodbye to the country chapter of her music career. “… [T]o the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and that I wanted to go explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace you accepted that with,” the singer said at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I will never forget it.”

Swift went from a wholesome country girl to a “bad girl” with a reputation and to “the loudest woman this town has ever seen.” But that’s not all that’s changed in the pop star’s life. In many ways, she’s a completely different artist than when she first took the stage at the 2007 ACMs.

Now, Taylor Swift is one of the biggest superstars in the world

Following her transition to pop music, Taylor Swift quickly solidified her place as one of the biggest superstars in the world. As of this writing, she’s a 10-time Grammy winner (with a total of 35 nominations). Additionally, Swift’s proven that she can turn almost any song into a hit. Since 2014, she’s released four chart-topping albums: 1989, Reputation, Lover, and her 2020 surprise record, Folklore, which she dropped on July 24, 2020. She’s also been at the center of a lot of drama and criticism regarding her love life, but has made sure to stand up for herself, speak her truth, and protect her music.

But her evolution doesn’t end there because Swift has also become a political activist after staying quiet about her political beliefs for a long time She has since become a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and has spoken out against inequality, sexism, guns, and President Donald Trump. It’s safe to say Swift has come a very long way since her first-ever ACM Awards.

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