The Haim sisters and Hayley Williams open up about their longtime bonds with the pop superstar
It's nice to have a superstar friend.
Taylor Swift tops PEOPLE's 2023 Most Intriguing People of the Year list, and in this week's cover story, the Grammy winner's friends, collaborators and tour openers share what she's like offstage and out of the spotlight.
Swift known the rock act Haim — composed of sisters Este, 37, Danielle, 34, and Alana Haim, 31, who collaborated with her on “No Body, No Crime” in 2020 — for nearly a decade.
“She’s incredibly prolific,” says Danielle. “Every time we all get together, we get so excited because we know she’s going to play us something new and groundbreaking. Her heart is always open, and you can hear it in her songs.”
And despite her breakneck schedule, Swift always shows up.
“She has always put her friends before herself in every situation,” Alana says. “She’s the kind of friend that checks up on us for weeks after a tough breakup and is a shoulder to lean on.”
Indeed, Swift met her longtime friend Hayley Williams, frontwoman of Paramore, when they were both up for the Best New Artist Grammy in 2008.
“Not long after we became friends, she knew I felt awkward going to my ex’s wedding, so she tagged along with me, made it fun, and then we ditched the reception to go to the Cheesecake Factory,” Williams, 34, recalls.
And Swift remains a supportive pal to this day.
“She recently called when I was going through a rough time, just to listen and crack jokes and give me solid advice that of course sounded like perfectly formed lyrics," says Williams, who adds: "She's funny as s--- and so fun."
Over the years, Swift has also blazed a path for the next generation of female artists. She personally asked singer-songwriter Girl in Red (born Marie Ringheim), 24, to open for her on her record-smashing Eras Tour.
“She reached out to me out of the blue and wrote a paragraph of kind things about my album. I was totally blown away, and it meant so much to me,” says Girl in Red, who adds, “I’ve started implementing a ‘What would Taylor do?’ mentality to everything. It sounds silly, but it truly makes me push myself to be better.”
Says opener Sabrina Carpenter, 24: "Since I was a little girl, I’ve really looked up to how fearless and how smart she is. As a performer, I look up to how she’s able to connect with every single person in the crowd, like she’s singing to them personally."
And she looks out for her opening acts, too. In July, Swift had to move up the start time of a Cincinnati concert due to inclement weather, which meant cutting opener Gracie Abrams' set that night.
Within two minutes “Taylor texted me being like, ‘The weather sucks, but can we sing “I Miss You, I’m Sorry” during my acoustic set?’ ” recalls singer-songwriter Abrams, 24, of Swift’s inviting her to perform together later in the show. “I hard-core blacked out due to the sheer disbelief of the moment. It was the best time of my life. [She’s the] most generous friend and mentor.”
Swift often collaborates with her friends, too. Haim opened for her on select dates of the Eras Tour — and joined her onstage to perform "No Body, No Crime."
"Playing the Eras Tour with Taylor and performing 'No Body, No Crime' with her every night was one of the most exhilarating things we've ever had the opportunity to experience," Este says. "It really felt like a dream. Not only was she so incredibly welcoming onstage, but her fans embraced us and sang every word."
Friend and collaborator Maren Morris joined Swift onstage to perform their Fearless (Taylor's Version) vault track "You All Over Me" at a Chicago Eras Tour stop over the summer.
"She's obliterated the bar," Morris, 33, says. "The sheer scale of her stadium tours ... it's half inspiring and half terrifying!"
Above all, Williams says, Swift is "forever an artist's artist." The pals recorded the Speak Now (Taylor's Version) vault track "Castles Crumbling" together — though Swift first had other plans.
"When Taylor asked me to feature on Speak Now TV, she originally suggested another song, and I was honest with her that though the song may have been closer to what a casual Paramore fan would expect me to feature on, I didn't relate to that sound as much," Williams recalls. "She then, within minutes, sent me 'Castles Crumbling,' and not only did it feel more like a fit, I related to it lyrically on a deeper level ... She respected my gut feelings and still pushed me to stay in it with her. "
Swift has worked closely with music producer Aaron Dessner, 47, since collaborating on her pandemic projects Folklore and Evermore, who says, "She's legitimately just a very down to earth and hardworking person" in the time that he's known her.
"She is an absolute genius," Dessner adds, "and thankfully also a truly wonderful human being."
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