Endlessly enthusiastic, New York singer/songwriter Pelli Jones hums around her city, drawing and dancing and chatting with strangers. She speaks in a rhythmic sing-song cadence, tripping over herself to add more meaning to a sentence. Her writing is full of all-caps and exclamation points. She sees every moment as a chance to create something cool and weird and beautiful with the people around her.
Born in Georgia, Pelli Jones grew up in the Queens of the early 90s. Classically-trained (Mannes School of Music, Manhattan School of Music,—all on scholarships) and possessing a wide range of compositional and performance skills, Pelli pushed away from the recital circuit and gravitated toward the legendary 90s club circuit and the 2000s Brooklyn underground. As a teenager, she ran a room at the famous Chelsea club Tunnel. She connected to the DJ culture, the costumes, the choreography—the loose-cannon artistic spirit that embodied the club kid Nineties. She ended up following club-kid luminaries like Junior Vasquez, Jonathan Peters and Danny Tengilia. Yet she never lost touch with her love of performance, and kept her formidable chops by practicing 4-5 hours a day.
Now, Pelli is spearheading a vision that combines the schooled effortlessness of Manhattan School of Music with her embrace of countless New York music scenes. She wants the grandeur of the 90s, the grit of the early-2000s Williamsburg rooftop, the euphoria of modern beats. Pelli’s omnivorous musical knowledge (Schumann, Bach, Ella Fitzgerald, Led Zepplin, Janis Joplin, Biggie, Run DMC) and creative restlessness help her achieve that vision.
Pelli’s songs, created in collaboration with Grammy-winning producer K Quick (Ryan Leslie, Chris Brown, Fabolous) and Kyle Kelso (Parachute, Tina Parol), bring years of conservatory training and club bangers into pop hooks. Nana’s voice is sensual and breathy, and hangs on the rhythm of the backbeat. The beats are not cookie-cutter jump-up-and-down formulas, but instead organic pieces of songwriting that fully integrate with Nana’s artistic vision.
Pelli’s aim is empowerment. Whether talking on the street with strangers, supporting addicts and the homeless, or giving listeners a chorus to scream, Pelli wants to bring the fractured, vibrant masses together. “On a daily basis, I go through life reaching out to people on any level,” she says. “I want to empower people to do something about their life.” If she could, Pelli would sit down and chat with every human on earth — through her songs, maybe she can. Pelli Jones sees the potential to forge a movement founded upon creative self-expression. She craves connection and rhythm.
The clubs, the early memories of Georgia, the rooftops, the self-help — all of it encapsulate Pelli’s vibrant personality and her music. With her sly, soulful voice, she tries to convince listeners to love themselves. For her, life ought to be a communal party, with no expectations, no limitations, and no cover at the door. Everyone is invited, but on one condition: they have to come in costume.