Born in Milan, he began teaching himself guitar at the age of 14. He taught himself how to play music by ear, and by the time he was 20, began to compose music. In 1999, he enrolled in the Academy of Sanremo, where he met Giancarlo Bigazzi. Together with the talent scout Angelo Carrara, he produced his first single, "É vero".
In his songs, Povia frequently takes on social issues. In 2003, he addressed bulimia with his song Mia sorella. He won the Nuove Tendenze della Canzone Popolare e d'Autore award. His 2005 single, "Avamposto 55", talked about the children of Darfur. In 2006, he produced the album I bambini fanno: Oh, from which the proceeds were used in a campaign he started to build hospitals in Darfur. It sold 200,000 copies and received special accolades from Sony BMG. "I Bambino", a song from the album, was translated into Spanish and played an important part in the international "Let Children be Children" campaign.
In 2009, he won second place in the 59th Sanremo Music Festival, with his song "Luca era gay". Povia declared that the song is about Luca Tolve, who he says has been cured of his homosexuality thanks to the therapies of Joseph Nicolosi. He later said he himself had a gay phase, which lasted seven months, and then he got over it, as well as helping two friends to get married who believed they were gay.