Woman of the Day – PJ Harvey

Green Party Women Celebrating Women’s History Month
Day 29: Woman of the Day – Polly Jean Harvey

On March 30, 1992 the first studio album Dry by Polly Jean Harvey, was released.

Known professionally as PJ Harvey, Polly is a highly distinctive figure in the world of music, renowned for her unique artistic vision, raw emotional intensity, and fearless experimentation across various genres. Today Green Party Women’s Amanda Stones recalls her memories of Polly on the festival circuit and the influence she has had on her.

“Back in the early 1990s the UK music festival scene was very different to how it is today featuring mainly artists from the alternative rock and independent music scene. Attendees like myself were mostly members of different music sub cultures including Indie, Goth, Grunge and Rave.

“Although I was already vaguely aware of her, I first encountered Polly live at the 1992 Reading festival. Featuring on a set mostly dominated by male artists, she cut a striking figure dressed head to toe in black PVC faux leather, wielding a Gretsch guitar and a voice of raw emotion ranging from sultry whispers to primal screams. Many people remember that year’s festival for other reasons but for me Polly made the biggest impression. I remember thinking “Wow, I wanna be her”,  a bit of a girl crush. Unfortunately this was never to be. As those who know me will testify, my guitar playing is not quite up to scratch and I can’t hold a note for the life of me!

“Since that time I have seen Polly perform several other times on the festival circuit and elsewhere and she has remained a constant musical companion of mine. Whenever life gets me down, all I need to do is turn the music on and scream along. Thank you Polly.”

Early life

Born on October 9 1969, in Bridport, Dorset, Polly grew up in a supportive and artistic environment. Her family played a significant role in nurturing her creative spirit. Polly’s parents encouraged her and her siblings to explore their artistic interests from a young age. Her father, Ray Harvey, was a sculptor and stonemason, while her mother, Eva, was a visual artist and a keen lover of music.

Music was always a prominent part of Polly’s upbringing. Her parents exposed her to a diverse range of musical genres, from folk and blues to rock and classical. This early exposure to music laid the foundation for her eclectic taste and her ability to seamlessly incorporate various influences into her own sound.

Music career

Polly’s musical journey began in the late 1980s when she formed the band Automatic Dlamini with fellow musician Rob Ellis. However, it was her solo career that catapulted her into the spotlight. In 1992, when she released her debut album Dry, she garnered critical acclaim for her gritty lyrics and powerful vocals. The album showcased her ability to seamlessly blend elements of punk, blues, and folk into her music, setting the stage for future explorations.

Throughout her career, Polly has consistently pushed the boundaries of her artistry, experimenting with various genres and styles. Albums like Rid of Me (1993), To Bring You My Love (1995), and Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000) further solidified her reputation as a fearless innovator.


Over the years, Polly’s contribution to music has been widely recognised, earning her numerous awards and accolades, including the prestigious Mercury Prize, multiple BRIT Awards, and Grammy nominations. Notably she is the only artist to have been awarded The Mercury Prize award twice.

Beyond her musical achievements, Polly is admired for her unwavering independence and integrity as an artist, always staying true to her vision and refusing to conform to industry norms. Annie Clark, AKA St Vincent remarked that she found salvation in Polly’s refusal of dogma. “She said: I am an artist, not a mouthpiece for whatever mercurial musings, sympathy Olympics, cause du jour. She rejected your moral purity for her own ritual obliteration.”

In summary, what sets Polly apart is her fearless artistic vision, uncompromising commitment to creative exploration, and profound impact on the musical landscape. She continues to captivate audiences with her unique blend of passion, vulnerability, and raw talent.

“The greatest challenge in life is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.”






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