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Taylor Swift is the world’s biggest pop star and has been the talk of the music and sports worlds throughout much of the past year.
But the 34-year-old arguably would not be where she is today without country music legend Toby Keith, who died on Monday following a battle with stomach cancer.
Keith helped launch the record label that first signed Swift, then 15, all the way back in 2005, Rolling Stone reported.
The country star had such an influence on Swift’s early career that she praised him to no end during her first television appearance.
According to Rolling Stone, Keith partnered with music executive Scott Borchetta to start Big Machine Records in 2005.
Borchetta, who had heard Swift perform in a Nashville cafe the year before, quickly signed her to the new label.
Swift was with Big Machine for 13 years, going from an aspiring teenage country singer to “America’s sweetheart” and pop superstar.
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