Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English musician and singer-songwriter. She was raised in Corscombe, Dorset and Yeovil, Somerset. Growing up, her parents were both fans of American blues music. Their record collection exposed Harvey not only to the blues but also to Captain Beefheart. Both the blues and Beefheart would become major influences on Harvey’s own musical style.
Harvey is primarily a vocalist and guitarist, but is also proficient with a wide range of instruments including piano, organ, bass, saxophone, and autoharp. She began her professional career in the early 1990s by forming a band she named PJ Harvey. She recorded her first two albums with this trio, and when they broke up she continued as a solo artist. Since 1995 she has recorded her albums with various musicians including John Parish, Rob Ellis, Mick Harvey, and Eric Drew Feldman. She has also worked extensively with the producer Flood.
Musically, Harvey dislikes repeating herself, resulting in albums that can sound different from one to the next. She has experimented with such diverse musical styles as rock, pop, electronica, and folk. She is also known for changing her appearance from album to album by altering her mode of dress or hairstyle. Each look is then incorporated into the album's artwork, music videos, and live performances. She often works closely with friend and photographer Maria Mochnacz in developing the visual style of each album.
Among the accolades she has received have been the 2001 Mercury Prize (for 2000's Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea), seven BRIT Award nominations, five Grammy Award nominations and two further Mercury Prize nominations. Rolling Stone named her 1992's Best New Artist and Best Singer Songwriter and 1995's Artist of the Year, and placed two of her albums (Rid of Me, To Bring You My Love) on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. She was also rated the number one female rock artist by Q magazine in a 2002 reader poll.