Andrea Shealey’s Spanish teacher may be upset her student missed class Tuesday morning, but Shealey thinks she had a good excuse – she was belting out a Taylor Swift tune live on the radio.
When judges announced after Shealey’s somewhat off-tune rendition of “Blank Space” that she had won tickets to the country-turned-pop star’s sold-out Tuesday night show at PNC Arena, she burst into tears of joy.
“Are you OK,” the radio hosts asked. “Are you crying?”
Raleigh was abuzz with Taylormania all day Tuesday, leading up to Swift’s “1989” tour stop. (1989 is the year Swift was born.) The tour – complete with fireworks, confetti, giant paper airplanes and a gratuitous number of costume changes – came to Raleigh on Tuesday after a Monday stop in Charlotte.
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The radio station’s competition was one event in a long day of Swift hype.
Though the Raleigh show didn’t start until 7:30 p.m., a crowd of at least 300 fans – known as “Swifties” – had already gathered in front of the PNC Arena by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Nicole Weaver, promotions assistant for iHeart Radio Raleigh, said the excitement for a Swift concert “blows everything else out of the water.”
At 4.6 million copies sold, “1989” was the best-selling album of 2014. The pop sensation boasts a net worth of $200 million, according to Forbes, and was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year twice.
Sisters Alexandria and Katarina McQueen were fortunate enough to be on a list for a pre-concert lounge party. Their father drove them five hours from Johnson City, Tenn., to attend the concert. He planned to sleep in the car during the concert.
But it was worth it for his daughters. Alexandria McQueen said she has been waiting nine years to attend a Swift concert.
Among others attending was a family of four from Cary, all sporting hot pink T-shirts, tutus and shiny silver wigs. The biggest Swiftie among them might have been father Tyler Holland, whose daughter had a sign reading “My Dad Only Wears Tutus for Taylor and Me!”
The entire family loves listening to Swift, and when tickets went on sale, all four were poised on their computers and phones, waiting. Tickets always sell out within minutes, but they managed to buy four.
Holland said Swift is the only musician he will allow his 12-year-old daughter, Annsley, to listen to unsupervised.
“She’s a role model to the nth degree,” Holland said.
Pulse FM promoter Kristina Sammartino attends concerts on behalf of the radio station often and said the crowd was different than what she had seen at other pop concerts. There was a wider range of age, and more families seemed to be in attendance.
Radio stations held contests throughout the past week and into Tuesday night for fans to win last-minute tickets.
On Friday, seven women and their supporters came to the Pulse FM studio to play a game of Twister. The winner, 23-year-old Rachel Turner, got to meet Swift at the show, and the six other contestants earned seats in the first seven rows.
Turner said she hyperventilated the last time she came in close contact with Swift – at a New Year’s Eve concert in New York. She feared she wouldn’t be able to remember her own name when she met Swift on Tuesday night.
Shealey, a 14-year-old Durant Road Middle School student and the winner of the lookalike competition, dressed as a cheerleader from Swift’s “Shake it Off” music video.
She said she has been Swiftie since she was 4, when she started listening to Swift’s early country albums with her sister. Now, Shealey is more of a pop fan and said Swift’s two most recent albums are her favorites. Still, she has loved the singer in every stage of her music career.
“I support her in everything she does,” Shealey said.