Taylor Swift plays a red guitar during taping of her 'VH1 Storytellers'… (Frank Micelotta for VH1…)
It’s a good bet that a fair amount of homework went undone Monday night for about 3,000 students from five Claremont colleges. Rather than hunkering down over their books, students piled into Pomona College's Bridges Auditorium and spent most of the evening with Taylor Swift, who used the opportunity to tape a new edition of “VH1 Storytellers.”
In an unusually smooth television taping — there were few pauses and no stops for retakes — Swift held the equivalent of a master class in pop music stardom after students at Harvey Mudd College won her national contest to host the singer-songwriter for a concert. Swift engaged easily with a handful of students selected to ask questions, bantered with those who brought handmade signs proclaiming their devotion to the evening’s star, and shared backstories on older songs as well as some from her soon-to-be-released fourth album, “Red,” due Oct. 22.
It was a rare opportunity for the 22-year-old Swift to play in front of a crowd consisting almost entirely of her peer group. Because she’s primarily been playing larger venues since her 2008 album “Fearless” vaulted her into the pop stratosphere, Swift has played very few college campuses, her publicist said Monday.
To the ear-piercing delight of the audience, she explained at the outset, “I’ve been very fortunate to play all these arenas and stadiums, but tonight is going to be a show like I will never do again and that I’ve never done before.”
During the Q&A segment, when one male student asked how she felt about college — a road she bypassed while focusing on her music career — Swift said, “There are many paths …. I just couldn’t stand not to be up on stage performing every night.”
Another asked whether she ever doubted herself. "Only about 400,000 times every 10-minute interval," Swift replied.
Her 75-minute performance included the new album’s first single, “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together,” the title track and the closing track, “Begin Again." She and her full touring band also delivered previous hits such as “Love Story,” “Mean” and “You Belong To Me.”
In addition to landing Swift’s performance, Harvey Mudd received a check for $10,000 from event sponsor Chegg and from Swift herself, the same amount donated to the other four educational institutions that finished in the top five for votes cast in the contest.
The “VH1 Storytellers” episode is scheduled to air at 11 p.m. on Nov. 11. A full interview with Swift is coming in Sunday's Arts & Books section.
[For the record, Oct. 16, 6:00 p.m.: Students were from various Claremont colleges, not just Harvey Mudd, and the concert took place at Pomona College, not Harvey Mudd as we orginally wrote. Harvey Mudd College was the winner of the national contest to bring Swift to a college campus for a performance.]
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