FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Forbes recently named country singer/ songwriter Taylor Swift to its list of most influential celebrities, ranking her just behind Madonna, Beyonce, and Steven Spielberg. She’s a six-time Grammy winner, and she’s the youngest ever to win a Grammy for Album of the Year.
But just six years ago, Swift was booking small venues for concerts in places like Allentown, Pa., Bethel, N.Y., and Tarboro, still hawking her songs to radio stations throughout the country.
By the time she performed at Edgecombe Community College (ECC) in February 2008, though, Swift’s star ticket was punched. Just a few months earlier, she won the Country Music Association's Horizon Award for Best New Artist, and record sales skyrocketed.
“She had a couple of hits, and she was starting to get some attention when we booked her,” says Eric Greene, the college’s cultural arts director. “But then her celebrity rose very quickly.”
“It was a great show, and we actually sold some seats over capacity.”
Swift is one of two performers who has played sold-out shows at the college’s Keihin Auditorium. The other was B.B. King in 2004.
ECC is celebrating that honor by raffling an assortment of Swift memorabilia, including a guitar signed by Swift when she was in Tarboro in 2008. The proceeds will go to the ECC Foundation to benefit students.
“This is for scholarships,” says Karen Andrus, the foundation’s executive director. “Our goal is to raise $75,000 this year for scholarships for students in need.”
The raffle package includes:
Takamine 523SC acoustic guitar autographed by Swift
Deluxe hardshell case
Autographed “Taylor Swift” CD (2006)
Autographed photo of Swift
Photo of Swift autographing the guitar backstage at Keihin Auditorium
Photo of Swift posing with the guitar
Autographed Edgecombe Performance Series Showbill booklet from the concert
The foundation is selling 200 tickets at $100 each. There is no time limit on sales, Andrus says, and after the last ticket is sold, the drawing will take place.
In addition to student scholarships, the foundation also provides grants to faculty and staff, awards for instructors, emergency funds for students, and assists with some capital projects.
In the past decade, the foundation has raised nearly $1 million and awarded about 1,000 scholarships.
“Taylor Swift was great when she was here,” Andrus says. “For her to be so well-known now is phenomenal.”
“She’s going to perform at the PNC Arena in Raleigh as part of her Red Tour on Sept. 13. Of course it’s been sold out for months. We tried to get tickets to include in the raffle, but when her tickets go on sale now, they are instantly gone.”
ECC experienced that in 2007. Ticket sales began in September prior to her performance in February. By Thanksgiving, about half the tickets for Swift’s show were sold.
After her appearance on the CMA awards show, the rest of the tickets sold in less than a month, Greene says.
“We knew she was probably on her way up,” Greene says. “But we had no idea how far she’d rise.”
To purchase raffle tickets, email Andrus at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (252) 823-5166, ext. 212. The ECC Foundation accepts cash, check, Visa, or MasterCard.