10 Days of Taylor: Bethenny Frankel, Rachel Platten, Linda Blair and more stars talk Taylor Swift
(Welcome to 10 Days of Taylor, our epic countdown to the epic finale of the most epic pop tour of all time: Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, stopping Halloween Night at Raymond James Stadium. For all of our Taylor Swift coverage, click here.)
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Taylor Swift from her 1989 World Tour, it’s that she has one hell of a Rolodex. Celebrity guests have been a staple of the tour all summer, as star after star has followed her across the country to drop in and sing a song or two.
So since Swift has so many famous friends, we decided to ask a few celebrities to weigh in on her. Over the past few months, we’ve asked a handful of musicians, actors and entrepreneurs to weigh in on Swift’s rise in the industry. Here’s a bit of what they had to say.
What’s it like when Taylor Swift pulls you onstage to sing your hit song in front of a stadium full of people?
“I wasn’t so much steeling myself like, Oh my god, I’m going to freak out, as much as just joy and gratitude and excitement,” said singer-songwriter Rachel Platten, who in June performed Fight Song with Swift in Philadelphia.
Platten, who will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall as part of the Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show on Dec. 14, doesn’t know when Swift first heard Fight Song. “I just know when I met her that she told me she liked the song, and that was really exciting, because obviously Taylor’s an incredible and inspiring woman, and I was happy,” Platten said.
“I really want more than anything for more and more people to share this song, because the stories I’m getting back are just so incredible, about what the song has helped people overcome, or struggle to overcome. That was most exciting to me, because that was going to be 50,000 more people that might not have had a chance to hear that song and let it resonate and help them in some way.”
On the other hand: What’s it like pulling Taylor Swift on stage to sing with you?
“It’s great,” said singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, who in 2014 pulled a dancing Swift on stage at one of her concerts. “I mean, she’s a sweet girl, she loves to dance, she loves to have fun and she’s not afraid of what people think of her. I don’t look at her as 'Taylor Swift.’ I just think of her as another person, because that’s who she is. She’s just a human. I just thought it’d be funny to have her (on stage). And I knew people in the audience would probably go berzerk. But she’s just so cute and lovely and fun. She was dancing on the side, and I was like, 'Well, if you’re going to dance, just come up here and dance!’”
So far, Swift has not repaid the favor by asking Michaelson to come dance at one of her 1989 shows. But that won’t affect their friendship.
“She’s a very sweet and genuine person, so it was nice to get to know her. She, in my opinion, deserves all the success that she has. She works incredibly hard and loves what she does, and it’s nice to see that in somebody.”
If you think county artists are mad about Swift ditching their genre for pop, think again.
“People criticized Taylor for being too pop,” said country singer Frankie Ballard. “But she took all of us country artists, while she was in this format, and picked us all up a notch. We all owe her thanks for that.”
Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles, who this summer signed with Swift’s label Big Machine, said she would love it if Swift were right there at the label headquarters in Nashville all the time. “I would love to be right there with her,” she said.
But Nettles, who knows a thing or two about navigating the worlds of pop and country, said she there’s nothing she could tell Swift that the 25-year-old doesn’t already know.
“Clearly, that young woman is navigating it all very well. I think she has navigated her transition from being a girl, really, when she started out, into turning into a young woman, and that is not an easy transition to navigate. I think she has navigated it with grace and continues to remain true to herself, continues to be able to provide music that her fan base relates to, while at the same time growing and getting new fans who not only evolve with her, but who are of her age or older. She’s doing just fine, honey. She doesn’t need any advice from me.”
One night a while back, Dawna Stone went to put her 8-year-old to bed. She had tears in her eyes.
“I don’t know what to do, mom!” Stone recalls her saying.
“Why? About what?”
“Taylor Swift is coming to town, but it’s on Halloween, and I can’t choose between going to see her and going trick-or-treating!”
Stone laughs at the memory. “Not that she even asked if she could go to Taylor Swift, or how much tickets cost or anything like that,” said the entrepreneur, author and Apprentice: Martha Stewart winner, who lives on Snell Isle in St. Petersburg. “But she’s excited to go trick-or-treating, lucky for me.”
Stone knows a thing or two about building a business empire — she founded, among other things, Women’s Running magazine, the Women’s Half Marathon and the St. Pete Food & Wine Festival. And so she offered this advice to 25-year-old Swift, who is fully enmeshed in growing empire of her own: “Make sure you continue to love what you’re doing. If you don’t love it, find something else.
“Whenever I talk to people, or I do talks or meet with women, (I say) don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. I think sometimes people find success, and then they enjoy it for a while, and if they stop enjoying it, they think they’re stuck. And they’re not. You can reinvent yourself and try something new. If you were successful once, you at least have that drive and that experience behind you to be successful again.”
Count Bethenny Frankel out for the possible guests to join Swift on stage during her final U.S. Tour stop in Tampa. The Real Housewives of New York star will be returning to her hometown immediately after appearing at the Simon Outlets Grand opening in Wesley Chapel Saturday.
“It’s okay,” Frankel said. “She lives on my street. Like a few blocks down, but on the same street.”
Either way, Frankel feels a little mature for the #squad.
“I’m old,” she said. “She’s half my age. I’m not sure she’d want to hang out with me. But then again, you never know who is a fan. Lady Gaga is fan of the Housewives, and Christina Aguilera likes the show, and that’s how we became friendly.”
Finally, we asked Linda Blair, who played possessed teen Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist — and who will appear at a screening of the film on Thursday at the Tampa Theatre — if Swift would make a good scream queen.
“I’m a huge fan of hers, first and foremost,” she said. “She’s darling, beautiful and fabulous. She can do anything she wants. If Taylor Swift wanted to play Regan, she could.”
-- Jay Cridlin, Robbyn Mitchell and Steve Persall