Polly Jean Harvey (born 9 October 1969) is an English musician and singer-songwriter. Raised in Corscombe, Dorset, Harvey formed the band (calling it PJ Harvey) as a teenager with drummer Rob Ellis and bassist Ian Olliver, who was replaced with Steve Vaughan. The trio released their first album Dry in 1992. Ellis and Vaughan left the band after the release of Rid of Me (1993), and Harvey continued as a solo artist.
Among the accolades she has received have been the 2001 Mercury Music Prize, seven BRIT Award nominations, five Grammy Award nominations and two further Mercury Music 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. Harvey has said that she enjoys performing more than writing and recording because performing is when the music "makes more sense".
Offstage, Harvey has cultivated a reputation for eccentricity to match her music; for example, Steve Albini claimed she ate nothing but potatoes while making Rid of Me. Harvey describes herself as "an extremely quiet person, who doesn't go out much, doesn't talk to people", and rejects the notion that her songs are autobiographical. She told The Times in 1998, "The tortured artist myth is rampant. People paint me as some kind of black witchcraft-practising devil from hell, that I have to be twisted and dark to do what I am doing. It's a load of rubbish". She later told Spin, "Some critics have taken my writing so literally to the point that they'll listen to 'Down by the Water' and believe I have actually given birth to a child and drowned her."
In 2006, Blender included her in their list of the hottest women of rock, calling her a "blues-rock sorceress trafficking in social politics and dark, tormented songwriting." In a 2007 interview, Harvey stated that she would like to reunite with fellow artists Tori Amos and Björk, as all three were featured on the cover of Q magazine in 1994.
In April 2008 she was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme hosted by Michael Berkeley on BBC Radio 3. On the show, she selected some of her favourite music, including pieces by Arvo Pärt, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Howe Gelb and Nina Simone.