If a name is a self-fulfilling prophecy, Taylor Swift seems to be fulfilling hers. At 17, Swift is already a nominee for the Country Music Assn.’s prestigious Horizon Award. It seems like everything is moving fast for the high school senior, already on tour with Brad Paisley and hitting the road with Kenny Chesney in the spring. But when you consider the Nashville mantra that a country music career is an eight-year plan, Swift is right on target.

She began performing at local fairs when she was 10. At 12, she learned to play guitar and write her own songs, securing a publishing deal with Sony/ATV at 13 and a deal with Big Machine Records at 15. A year later, her first single “Tim McGraw” was a hit. Her self-titled, self-written album went platinum, thanks in part to her MySpace page, which received more than 24 million streams.

Swift plans to re-release her debut before heading back to the studio to record her second album in December. “Sometimes I still can’t believe this is my life,” she says.