New Faces NJ: Charlotte Sometimes

As she tours the nation this fall with Gavin DeGraw, everyone from MTV to The New York Times wants to know more about this strangely named girl with the big voice and soul-stirring lyrics.

Photo by: Barnaby Roper.

“I’ve learned that no one really gets people from New Jersey,” says the Wall Township native, who gained a new respect for home after spending the summer on a hard rock tour. “What’s so cool is that people here are really open, and for good or bad, they are brutally honest, and you really have to respect that. Everyone thinks there’s just something wrong with us, but it really was a great place to grow up.”

This young musician, born Jessica Charlotte Poland, has always craved the spotlight. She was immersed in dance and musical theater until age 14—“when the world was crumbling beneath me.” It was then she first picked up a guitar and laced her poetry with melodies.

“I was definitely a moody teenager,” says the Wall High School graduate. “You have to have a lot of feelings inside to have the patience to write about them.”

After gigs at middle schools and local coffee houses, Charlotte moved onto the Big Apple scene at age 16, when she also adopted her new persona, Charlotte Sometimes, named after a 1969 children’s novel by Penelope Farmer. “I’m not sure how I came across this book, but it’s the story that I love,” she says. “It’s about a girl who is trapped in time trying to be someone she is not, while still being herself.”

Charlotte, who loves to “rock Converse sneakers with pretty retro-inspired dresses,” is all about duality. With her first major album, Waves and the Both of Us, a genre-crosser released this May by Geffen/Interscope Records, you never know exactly what side of her you are going to get.

Inspired by Billie Holiday, the Everly Brothers, Fiona Apple, and the Postal Service among others, Charlotte describes her music as a “big stew—a combination of folk and jazz, mixed with beats and pop.” The first single, “How I Could Just Kill A Man,” shows her darker, vindictive side, while other tracks like “Waves and the Both of Us” make you want to get up and dance to the bubbly beats.

“There’s a side of me that’s very rock-and-roll and provocative and fun. I can definitely play with the boys,” she says, citing her participation in the hard-rocking Vans Warped Tour. “But there is also something about picking up an acoustic guitar—you just don’t have to compete as much.”

And that’s just what she and her band are getting to do on tour through October 6 with DeGraw. Charlotte calls the tour, “a singer-songstress dream,” and says, “I’ve always been more of a word-and-melody kind of gal.”

Those words and melodies are attracting plenty of media interest. “It’s hard to keep a level head,” Charlotte says of the recent attention. “The positive stuff is great, but as any female knows, no one really pays attention to the good stuff. I feel like I am constantly being judged, It’s like high school all over again. I am constantly stuck in people’s perceptions of me, when really the ideal perception is me just trying to be myself.”

Keep an eye out for Charlotte as she continues to promote Waves, while writing songs for her next album, and for other artists. And expect her to keep telling it like it is.

“Just like in Jersey, everyone knows how each other feels, because we say exactly how we feel,” she says. “All of my songs are about things that I’ve gone through, so my music is really personal and overly honest.”

Exactly what you would expect of a girl from Jersey who knows how to keep it real.

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