HelloBeautiful.com’s “Base Level” column features the hottest new artists we’re buzzing about. Before they make it to the summit of superstardom, we spot them at base level–the beginning of their hopeful journey to the top.
Polly A is a different breed and cut from a different cloth, which is why her distinct sound places her in a lane all her own.
The Midwest transplant realized early on taking the traditional 9-5 route just wasn’t for her and ambitiously began to pursue her music career straight out of high school. Polly A stopped by the HelloBeautiful offices to perform for us and talk about how she was able to write with Alicia Keys, get signed with SalaAm ReMi and work with J. Cole.
Name: Polly A
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Who are some of your musical influences: They range from Marvin Gaye to Bob Marley. I love Fiona Apple, Lauryn Hill and Sade. I draw from a lot of singer-songwriters who speak their honesty in their own way. Those are the artists that resonate the most with me.
When did you realize that music was your passion? I was in school and I did a summer internship that was horrible and it was in that moment everyone was going back to school and I knew there was an end to this. That was a very depressing and frightening thought. After I graduated, I started to pursue music.
What has been your biggest break thus far? There have been a couple but I think when I placed a record with Alicia Keys called “Love Is My Disease” it was on “The Element of Freedom” album and that kind of got me in the game because she’s such a respected artist, she’s not just a pop star, she’s a musician, so working with her helped me. It’s like going to an Ivy League school, people automatically assume the person is legit. Then signing with SalaAm ReMi and that was another big one because the respect he garners automatically puts the people affiliated with him in a position of respect and then most recently placing with J.Cole on his “Crooked Smile” record. So those three helped a lot.
If you could be the love child of two artists-dead or alive-who would they be and why?
Billie Holiday meets Janis Joplin because they speak truth and pain in a way that’s so real. It’s cutting without being overly depressing. I just love the passion in both of them and the writing in both of them. Janis just had all that raw energy and Billie provoked a very profound truth about life.
Check out her live performance of “Ghetto Gold Dreams” below:
This California native teased us last year with her sensual hit "Ecstasy" but she' back to take 2014 by storm. With her DJ Mustard produced single "2 On" featuring TDE's ScHoolboy Q, this R&B songstress proves she's taking no prisoners.
2. Elijah Blake
Blake went from working at BlockBuster to writing Usher's No. 1 hit "Climax." Now the singer-songwriter is gearing up to expand his musical resume, which included penning Rihanna's "No Love Allowed" Under the mentorship of hit producer No.Id, it's only a matter of time before Blake's soothing voice floods your radio.
3. Mara Hruby
If you're in dire need of relaxation, just listen to Mara Hruby's EP "From Her Eyes" While the project is covers of everything from D'Angelo's "How Does It Feel" to Norah Jones "Take Off Your Cool" the West Cost native puts her enchanting voice on it, to craft a sound all her own.
Kelela brings a breath of fresh air to the musical landscape. With her urban-alternative sound, this Ethiopian beauty debuted her project Cut 4 Me to rave reviews. With singles such as "Guns & Synths" and "Enemy", Kelela's sound violently shakes up the musical landscape to offer a well-needed rejuvenating sound.
You know him as that voice. The voice behind Drake's "Too Much" and Beyonce's "Mine" but when this London native released his mixtape Dual, he proved that he can stand on his own two. With singles such as "Too Much" and "Happen" Sampha has only given us a taste of what's to come in 2014.
6. Maryann Vasquez
You need Maryann Vasquez in your life and you don't even know it. The singer/songwriter released her project "Due" and the five song EP is a fusion of pop and R&B but its her honest songwriting abilities with her undeniable voice that helps to raise the musical bar.
This Malaysian lawyer turned singer is a unique fusion of pop soul. Think Fiona Apple meets Lauryn Hill. With her sophomore debut "Nocturnal" which features production from Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, Yuna is sure to open the window on music and let in some well needed fresh air.
This Queens, New York native has such a robust voice, you wonder how she's able to carry it around in her petite 5'2 frame. But the Princeton graduate evokes a soulful sound, which echoes of her musical inspirations Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey. But with her album "Ayahuasca" fans will wonder how they've made it this far in their life without having her on their iPod.
This L.A Based Trio has secured a fan base so loyal, one would think they've been on the scene forever, but King's soothing brand of soul and R&B has catapulted the group to super star status in what seems like a matter of months. With their newest single "In The Meantime" fans can't help but fall in love with their melodic sound.
10. Gary Clarke Jr.
Hailed as this generations Jimmi Hendrix, Gary Clarke Jr and his electric guitar burst onto the scene to take his place among the rock Gods. With his album "Blak And Blue" The Austin, TX native combines rock and blues to craft a sound so rebelious it became infectious. After earning himself a Grammy nod just by being himself, one can only hope he continues his musical reign for the new year.
11. Eric Bellinger
Can he sing? Yes. Can he perform? Absolutely! Is he a cutie? Umm, duh! Singer-songwriter Eric Bellinger is part of a new crop of R&B artists showcasing a vocal prowess unlike any other, Bellinger incorporates a new school sound with classic R&B fundamentals.
The things Daley is able to do with his voice should be illegal, but this 24 year old British soul singer is one import we're here for. With his singles "Broken" and "Alone Together" Daley is sure to solidify his place in R&B, and his naturally curly pompadour is a plus!