2010-11-23 / Front Page

A Week to Remember, Stories to Share

This Philipstown teen has something extra to be thankful for—a dream trip with Taylor Swift
by Catherine Garnsey

An ecstatic Mackenzie poses with her father and singer Taylor Swift after a special surprise concert Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Fariel An ecstatic Mackenzie poses with her father and singer Taylor Swift after a special surprise concert Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Fariel Mackenzie Fariel might just be the luckiest 13-year-old in Philipstown.

She just returned from a weeklong promotion tour with Taylor Swift for the debut of the pop star’s latest CD, “Speak Now.” Swift is a crossover Country/Rock phenomenon who was named Country Music Songwriter of the Year on Nov. 10 at the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Awards in Nashville, becoming (at age 20) the youngest person in history to win the award. Taylor also took home the evening’s other big award, the Country Song of the Year, “You Belong with Me,” making her the firstever songwriter to win the award three years in a row.

So how did Mackenzie Fariel get such privileged access to one of the most famous celebrities in America? “My dad won this contest for me,” Mackenzie explained, “and it is called the ‘Dream Trip of a Lifetime.’ My dad is a pilot for Jet Blue, the company that sponsored this contest for their crew members. Out of 800 entries, my dad and I were chosen.”

In Los Angeles, Mackenzie and her father, Dean Fariel, each received a signed “Baby Taylor” guitar from Swift herself. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Fariel In Los Angeles, Mackenzie and her father, Dean Fariel, each received a signed “Baby Taylor” guitar from Swift herself. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Fariel Mackenzie’s dad, Dean Fariel, had written a 40-word essay about why he and his daughter should win. But the clincher was that he also included the link to a YouTube site of Mackenzie singing a Taylor Swift song and playing the guitar during an Open Mic Night at Cold Spring restaurant Whistling Willie’s. Mackenzie was just 11 when she performed this song. The judges viewed that video clip and awarded the Fariels the grand prize.

The “Dream Trip” included publicity events in both New York City and Los Angeles. Mackenzie talked about how much fun it was to be at Taylor’s CD release party in New York on the first night. “Taylor is really tall (6’2”) and very funny and energetic. She absolutely loves her fans. Every time she got up on the stage, she would yell, ‘Oh, I love you guys!’ and make a heart shape with her hands for us,” she recalled.

Mackenzie really did hobnob with Taylor and the band at that party and she has their signatures on her backstage pass to prove it. The tour also included VIP seating at The Today Show and The David Letterman Show, where Taylor was the guest performer.

Then it was off to LA for an appearance on The Ellen De- Generes Show, but not before Taylor performed a special surprise concert for travelers in the Jet Blue terminal at JFK Airport. Mackenzie reported that she had a great time just being on the charter flight with the celebrities and the press. They arrived in LA at midnight and Mackenzie said she was really tired, until she stepped off the plane onto a red carpet and Taylor presented a Taylor Swift guitar to each of the contest winners. “That was the best part of the whole trip,” Mackenzie said, “A custom designed ‘Baby Taylor’ guitar for me and one for my dad. Taylor signed mine right then and said to me, ‘Come ‘ere girl, I haven’t hugged you today.’”

NBC is planning a primetime, one-hour special of this whirlwind Taylor Swift adventure on Thanksgiving night. Fans can get to see what traveling with a pop star is really like and see Mackenzie and Taylor in action.

So what’s next for Mackenzie Fariel? Mackenzie has been writing her own songs and taking guitar lessons from Cold Spring’s Stacie Labriola for many years, so it was no surprise that she replied, “I want to be a singer and guitarist just like Taylor Swift. She so inspired me.”

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