The following is a script of "Taylor Swift" which originally aired on Nov. 20, 2011 and was rebroadcast on May 19, 2013. Lesley Stahl is the correspondent. Shari Finkelstein, producer.
Six years ago last fall, a 16-year-old girl released her debut country music album and dreamed of making it big. Well today that girl is as big as it gets. She has sold more albums in the U.S. over those six and a half years than any other artist in any genre. Her latest album, Red, sold more copies in its first week than any album in more than a decade. Taylor Swift's has been a meteoric rise. And she seems to know, even at a young age, just the right notes to hit - in her songwriting, and in her business.
In an era of declining record sales, Taylor Swift appeals to people who still pay a lot for music - girls and their moms. She has held onto her country fans even as she's gotten huge in pop. And then there's her image: lots of publicity about her love life, but never a drunken rampage, a public outburst, or a scandalous photo. She's on the road now promoting her Red album, but we first met Taylor Swift back in 2011 during her "Speak Now" tour.
Take a look at the crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles - where Taylor Swift sold out four shows within minutes.
[Taylor Swift on stage: Well hello, Los Angeles...(huge screams)]
The decibel level here reminds you of the Beatles! It's almost as if she's their spiritual leader, with her message that you can be a good girl, a nice person and still have fun.
Taylor Swift writes her own songs, about love and heartbreak and being the ordinary girl next door. She's been called "the poet laureate of puberty."
Lesley Stahl: Are they great songs in your opinion?
We spoke to Bill Werde, editorial director of Billboard.
Bill Werde: Maybe if she looked different, like let's say she wasn't young and cute. I think people would be talking about her as a great songwriter.
Lesley Stahl: So, you think that the persona and the fan base and all that almost diminishes--
Bill Werde: Yeah, I definitely think it does. You know, I think that it's hard for critics to look at an arena of screaming 12-year-old girls and say, 'This is really credible songwriting.'
Lesley Stahl: But you say it?
Bill Werde: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, no doubt.
All Taylor Swift's songs are autobiographical. "Love Story," grew out of a teenage argument she had with her parents over a boy. They thought he was a creep...
Taylor Swift: And he was but I, at the time, just thought he was amazing.