Polly A Shines Under the “Brooklyn Sun”
Polly A is Milwaukee-born and Harlem-based. So what, Brooklyn Roads wondered, was her inspiration for “The Brooklyn Sun”, the first release from her soon-to-be-released EP Ghetto Gold Dream?
“The idea for ‘Brooklyn Sun’ came from the woes of dating in New York. There’s so many people and distractions that it’s very easy to be constantly in a state of confusion when it comes to finding someone special so I wanted to write a song that expressed the core of what I think people want. We don’t want the games. . . so ‘Gimme your sex, love and happiness’ sums up what could make a relationship work,” she explained.
The rhythms and beats accompanying her lyrics is what Polly A calls “hybrid soul.”
“It’s rooted in soul music, but so many other genres influence my music, like hip-hop, rock, and reggae. It’s really a mash-up of all of my favorite styles of music in one,” she explained to Brooklyn Roads.
Reggae was the earliest of her influences, inspired by her Jamaican-born mother. “I grew up listening to a lot of reggae. My upbringing was filled with roots reggae artists like Bob Marley and Third World and dancehall (a more sparse version of reggae).” Polly A – aka Meleni Smith – also explored music outside of her childhood home and found herself drawn to the sounds of Sade, Michael Jackson, and Prince. As her musical interests began to expand, so did her desire to call New York City home.
“I always saw New York as the mecca for artists so it was never not an option to move to New York and pursue music,” she told Brooklyn Roads.
“I have met some of the most creative people in New York who have literally shaped me into the artist I have become. Not just musically,” Polly A said. “I’ve met visual artists and fashion designers that have inspired my art. They’ve made me move beyond just hearing music. It made me think of what my music looks like, what colors does it embody. New York is the most inspiring city to live in.”
While this young artist may be on the verge of the release of her first EP, Polly A is, in fact, a veteran singer-songwriter. This summer, she’s scheduled to grace the stages of mega-music festivals Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza and she has already co-written songs with Alicia Keys and J. Cole.
“I met J. Cole at Premier Studios in Times Square, NYC. It was a chance meeting in the hallway,” Polly A said. “I told him if he ever needed a singer-songwriter to let me know and he happened to be working on Born Sinner at the time. It was fate, I guess, because I literally worked on the song (‘Crooked Smile’) right there on the spot and recorded it that night.” Polly A explained that “Alicia Keys heard ‘Love Is My Disease’ ….and fell in love with it. The producer I worked on it with played it for her, so that’s how that came to be.”
When asked about taking the name Polly A, the singer-songwriter explained her stage name is, “short for Polyamorous, which to me represents a love movement. It’s not so much the sexual connotation of Polyamory, but the message of love that I want to express, which is the same as most of my favorite artists. I truly believe in the power of love being the only thing that will heal the human condition and save us from ourselves. It’s most importantly about self-love as the base and from that universal love can grow”.
In the near future, Polly A hopes to collaborate with Andre 3000 and Frank Ocean – and to perform in Brooklyn. “I would love to perform at Brooklyn Bowl and Brooklyn Masonic Temple,” she said. “There’s so many great spots. . .I’d love to perform in them all!”