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CLOSE’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:

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