When we're used to our pop stars making headlines by behaving badly or entering rehab for the fourth time, it's always a pleasure to report what country star Taylor Swift has been up to. The precocious singer is no stranger to making headlines with her regular sweeping of awards shows, sold-out concerts, and megaplatinum record sales.
But in May, Taylor showed yet another dimension when she donated $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in her hometown of Nashville. It was the largest gift the museum had ever received from a musician.
"We're obviously blown away by it," museum director Kyle Young said of the donation. "This is really a substantial and tremendous investment in our future ... [with] education [at] the center. We do a lot now, and this will allow us to do so much more."
This is only the latest in philanthropic efforts over the past several years by Ms. Swift, who has also donated thousands of books to a Pennsylvania library near her birthplace and supported the Red Cross.
And in March during the 2012 Kids' Choice Awards, the singer was awarded the Big Help Award, given annually to a celebrity who has helped the environment.
First lady Michelle Obama, no stranger to making a difference herself, praised Swift as she presented the award: "Every step of the way [Swift] has always made it a point to give back," said Ms. Obama. "She's supported children's charities. She's worked to combat bullying, and given away books to schools and libraries all around the country. She's given so much of her own money to victims of natural disasters here and around the world."
Of course, others in the music world have already set the bar high when it comes to philanthropy efforts. A titan in the field is U2 lead singer and songwriter Bono, who's a cofounder of the organization ONE, which supports the improvement of and more money for global aid programs, as well as other efforts.
But Swift, who is 22, has a pretty good head start. She's looked up to by millions of children and young adults who know every word of her songs and has often been praised as a positive role model.
"She is so in touch with younger folks and her music really speaks to them," Mr. Young said.
Swift herself has said she's mindful of the eyes on her, especially the younger ones. "The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation, so make your words count," the singer told the Los Angeles Times.