Sister Orchid is Nellie’s seventh album, starting with Get Away From Me (“a tour de force” – The New York Times), including Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (“among the killer overhauls of American standards” – The New York Times) and My Weekly Reader, music of the ‘60s (“..kicks serious butt. The results are beautiful.” – PopMatters), her second collaboration with famed Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick. On Obligatory Villagers (“a brisk nine-song set that plays like the breathless first act of a stage musical decrying American fascism” – SPIN), local Poconos hometown jazz greats Bob Dorough, Phil Woods, and David Liebman contributed their exceptional talents.
She has won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum on Broadway in The Threepenny Opera, performed onscreen in the films PS I Love You and Downtown Express, and her music was used in Rumor Has It, Monster-in-Law, PS I Love You, Gasland, Last Holiday and Private Life.
McKay co-created and starred in the award-winning off-Broadway hit Old Hats and has written three acclaimed musical biographies – I Want to Live!, the story of Barbara Graham, third woman executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin, Silent Spring: It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature, an exploration of environmental pioneer Rachel Carson, and A GIRL NAMED BILL – The Life and Times of Billy Tipton, named one of the Best Concerts of 2014 by The New York Times. Her latest lady bio is The Big Molinsky – Considering Joan Rivers (“unpredictable, thrilling…sardonic wit..” – The New York Times).
Nellie’s music has been heard on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Weeds, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Nurse Jackie, and SMILF, and she has appeared on TV shows including The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, Ferguson, and The View. Nellie has made numerous radio appearances on NPR’s Mountain Stage, A Prairie Home Companion, eTown, and Marion McPartland’s Piano Jazz. The Chase Brock Experience produced a ballet of her third album, Obligatory Villagers, and she contributed the forward to the 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat. Her writing has also appeared in The Onion, Interview and The New York Times Book Review.
A recipient of PETA’s Humanitarian Award and the Humane Society’s Doris Day Music Award in recognition of her dedication to animal rights, Nellie is an annoyingly vocal advocate for feminism, civil rights and other deeply felt progressive ideals. She is currently part of the campaign to get horse-drawn carriages off the streets of New York City. She would like to be friends with Russia, the country with the most nuclear weapons in the world. We must all be very kind to one another.
“Thanks to (McKay), the Great American Songbook has a living, breathing present as well as a glorious past” – Boston Globe
“McKay comes on as a Harlem Holly Golightly, a social activist with a disarming mastery of pop vernacular.” – Los Angeles Times
“…a sly, articulate musician who sounds comfortable in any era” – The New York Times
“..ambitious, intriguing and clever..” – Billboard
“McKay must have been genetically engineered under an oyster shell in New Orleans’ Frenchman St.. a bizarre sense of busker authenticity…witty, bright, and gloriously inappropriate.” – Theater Mania
“..funny and touching, ceaselessly clever and scarily talented.” – The New Yorker
“A renegade songwriter with an ultraflexible Great American Songbook sensibility, McKay finds modern resonances everywhere…” – Rolling Stone
“Her last two ‘cabaret’ shows I saw have been jaw-dropping. They both completely subverted the genre,” said David Byrne, … Among Ms. McKay’s charms, Mr. Byrne said, are the ways she playfully mixes what he called a “tragic noir vibe” with her “wicked sense of humor.” – The Wall Street Journal
“The one thing certain about Ms. McKay is the size and range of her talent..” – The New York Times