Perhaps you do. Polly was/is a singer/songwriter/actor, who was active in the 1960s and early 1970s and, along with Cherry Red Records in London, I’m hoping to make contact with her. Not unlike singer/songwriter Ruth Copeland, active in roughly the same era, she’s all but dropped off the face of the earth, at least in terms of public life. But whereas Ruth was a highly photographed woman, an image-search for Polly yields precious little, bar the odd still from her appearance in Super Fly (1972).
Polly was at one point known as Polly Elliott (from her marriage to veteran folk star Rambling Jack Elliott). Then she married producer David Niles. There’s evidence (flimsy, true) that prior to all of that, she was Polly Grannis. Why, you might ask, if she wants to live anonymously, are we wanting to bother her? Well, Polly actually recorded an album of material for the Ember label (a British Independent, founded in the 1950s). Cherry Red would like to issue it, but with Polly on board, so that it can be the best it can be, a fully artist-approved, authoritative release.
Currently, only ‘Sunshine In My Rainy Day Mind’, ‘The Milk Of The Tree’, ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), ‘East Virginia’, ‘I Am A Child’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’ are in circulation (not only readily available to listen to on streaming sites, they’ve also appeared on various CD compilations). Polly has a soft, gossamer voice that’s surprisingly versatile – whispy and Lynsey de Paul-ish on ‘Sushine…’, formal and astringent on ‘Milk…’ and then much earthier on ‘East Virginia’. Some of the material has qualities of sunshine pop and movie theme tune music. Some of it’s lavishly orchestrated while other tracks are more stripped back. ‘Bang Bang’ is recast as cosmopolitan lounge music with Polly singing in an adolescent purr.
There was one glimmer of contact three years ago when Polly piped up to comment on a clip of ‘Sushine In My Rainy Day Mind’ on YouTube. Assuming it was THE Polly Niles (and it seems likely), she said she was alive and well, living happily in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Then nothing. No more comments and no replies. Her YouTube account yields not a single clue. It would be wonderful finally to issue the Polly Niles album, with Polly’s story as part of the package, and so we wait in hope.