Nellie McKay

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Nellie McKay
McKay at the Farm Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Gala in New York City on May 14, 2011
McKay at the Farm Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Gala in New York City on May 14, 2011
Background information
Birth nameNell Marie McKay
Born (1982-04-13) April 13, 1982 (age 40)
London, England
OriginManhattan, New York City
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, piano, ukulele
Years active2003–present
LabelsColumbia, Vanguard, Verve
Websitenelliemckay.com

Nell Marie McKay (born April 13, 1982)[1] is a singer and songwriter. She made her Broadway debut in The Threepenny Opera (2006).[2]

Early life and education[edit]

McKay was born in London[3][4] to an English father, writer-director Malcolm McKay, and an American mother, actress Robin Pappas. She also has a half sister, author Alice Clark Platts.[2] She holds dual citizenship. While growing up, she lived with her mother in Harlem, New York,[3] in Olympia, Washington and in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania.[5] She studied jazz voice at the Manhattan School of Music, but did not graduate. Her performances at various New York City music venues, including the Sidewalk Cafe and Joe's Pub, drew attention from record labels.[4]

Career[edit]

Nellie McKay at the Farm Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Gala in New York City (2011)

2004–2006[edit]

The recording sessions for McKay's debut album Get Away from Me took place in August 2003 with Geoff Emerick as producer. Emerick was known for working as the Beatles' engineer on such albums as Revolver and Abbey Road.[6] The title is a play on Norah Jones' Come Away with Me.[5]

Get Away from Me was released in February 2004.[7] Jon Pareles of The New York Times called the album "a tour de force from a sly, articulate musician who sounds comfortable in any era".[8] The album was included on several "Best of 2004" lists.[9]

McKay was one of the major breakout artists from the 2004 SXSW Festival and was a finalist in the 2004 Shortlist Music Prize. She toured the northern United States in July 2004 as an opening act on the first half of the Au Naturale tour co-headlined by Alanis Morissette and Barenaked Ladies.[10]

Pretty Little Head was released in the United States on 31 October 2006 on McKay's own label, Hungry Mouse, and was marketed by SpinART Records.[11]

McKay made her Broadway debut as Polly Peachum in the Roundabout Theatre Company's limited-run production of The Threepenny Opera, co-starring with Alan Cumming, Jim Dale, Cyndi Lauper, and Brian Charles Rooney. The role earned her a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance.[12]

2007–present[edit]

McKay's third full-length studio release debuted on 25 September 2007. With both her previous albums lasting over 60 minutes and spanning two discs each, Obligatory Villagers, with only nine tracks (ten if purchased from iTunes), totaling 30 minutes was her shortest release to date.[13]

On October 13, 2009 she released her fourth studio album, Normal as Blueberry Pie – A Tribute to Doris Day on Verve Records. The album contains twelve covers of songs made famous by Day, as well as one original tune. Barnes & Noble featured an exclusive edition, packaged with the bonus track "I Want To Be Happy".[14] iTunes also featured an exclusive edition with a different bonus track, "I'll Never Smile Again".[15]

On September 28, 2010 McKay and Verve Records released her fifth album, Home Sweet Mobile Home, with original tracks. It was produced by McKay and her mother, Robin Pappas, with artistic input from David Byrne.[16]

In 2013, McKay appeared in the Off-Broadway revue show Old Hats.[17]

On March 24, 2015 McKay released her sixth album, My Weekly Reader, a covers album of songs from the 1960s. Songs include Moby Grape's "Murder in My Heart for the Judge", The Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park", the Steve Miller Band's "Quicksilver Girl", Frank Zappa's "Hungry Freaks, Daddy", The Beatles' "If I Fell", The Cyrkle's "Red Rubber Ball", and Herman's Hermits' "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter".[18]

On February 1, 2017, McKay joined Laurie Anderson, Joan Osborne, Suzanne Vega and the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra for Four Scored, a single performance of reworked songs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[19]

McKay, along with violinist Philippe Quint, starred in and contributed music to the independent film Downtown Express, directed by David Grubin.[20]

Her musical show "I Want to Live!" is based on the life of murderer Barbara Graham, who also inspired a 1958 film with the same name.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

McKay is a vocal feminist, and wrote a satirical song relating to feminist issues called "Mother of Pearl".[23] She is a vegan.[24]

McKay "is a proud member of PETA" (album notes); her song "Columbia Is Bleeding" dealt with the issue of Columbia University's cruelty to animals. She wrote a 2004 song ("John John") about her feelings in favor of political candidate Ralph Nader over Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.[25]

She has performed at events for the progressive radio station WBAI, Planned Parenthood, Farm Sanctuary,[26] and the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, among many groups. McKay was one of several musicians to write a song in support of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis.[27]

In 2018, she appeared on The Jimmy Dore Show, a progressive political commentary show on YouTube, where she performed several of her songs and discussed her political views with Dore.[28] She has also appeared as a guest on Dore's live show.[29]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Soundtracks and covers[edit]

Collaborations and other appearances[edit]

Other songs[edit]

  • "The In Crowd"
  • "John-John"
  • "Teresa"
  • "Late Again"
  • "A Christmas Dirge"
  • "Take Me Away"
  • "The Cavendish"[31]
  • "Compared to What" (Original written by Gene McDaniels and made popular by Les McCann, Nellie McKay has included it in her performances during 2015.)

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role
2007 P.S. I Love You Ciara Reilly

References[edit]

  1. ^ VanAirsdale, S.T. "Nellie McKay: The Musician, the Myth, the ... Movie Star?". Movieline. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Himes, Geoffrey (3 April 2015). "Nellie McKay is working her way through the decades".
  3. ^ a b Chinen, Nate (7 October 2009). "Bless the Beasts and Doris Day Too".
  4. ^ a b Gay, Jason (18 May 2003). "Whoa, Nellie". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 6 July 2008.
  5. ^ a b Tannenbaum, Rob (4 April 2004). "Her Life Is a Cabaret". New York.
  6. ^ Hurwitz, Matt (1 September 2004). "Recording Nellie McKay's Get Away From Me with Geoff Emerick". Mix Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  7. ^ Burdick, John (8 December 2016). "The inspired Nellie McKay plays Beacon's Towne Crier this Friday". HV1.
  8. ^ Pareles, Jon (8 February 2004). "Flying Hitlers and Pepsi's Super Bowl Fumble". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Best Music and Albums". Metacritic.
  10. ^ Schweizer, Barbara. "barenaked-music.ch - BNL News (english)". www.barenaked-music.ch. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  11. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (6 October 2006). "Arts, Briefly". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Theatre World Awards Recipients". Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  13. ^ Nellie McKay: Review, rollingstone.com; accessed February 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "Nellie McKay's "Normal As Blueberry Pie-A Tribute to Doris Day" on NPR Music". No Depression. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  15. ^ Normal As Blueberry Pie - A Tribute to Doris Day (Bonus Track Version) by Nellie McKay, 1 January 2009, retrieved 12 August 2018
  16. ^ "Home Sweet Mobile Home - Nellie McKay | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  17. ^ Isherwood, Charles (4 March 2013). "Aging Clowns and Brand-New Gags". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "My Weekly Reader - Nellie McKay | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  19. ^ The Brooklyn Paper: 'Four-Scored': Laurie Anderson joins the Philharmonic at BAM, brooklynpaper.com; accessed February 14, 2017.
  20. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia and Tom Huizenga (8 June 2011). "Classic And Indie Rock Collide On The Big Screen in 'Downtown Express'". NPR.
  21. ^ Holden, Stephen (24 March 2011). "Bringing Out the Bad Girl for Some Tough Times". The New York Times.
  22. ^ DiNunzio, Miriam (9 February 2012). "Speaking With ... Nellie McKay". Chicago Sun-Times.
  23. ^ Pareles, Jon (17 December 2007). "A Multi-Voiced Warbler With an Electric Ukulele". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "Interview with Vegan Songstress Nellie McKay". Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  25. ^ "NPR: All Songs Considered: Political Songs & Satire". NPR. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  26. ^ Heyman, Marshall (16 May 2011). "Saving Pigs, Not Eating Them". The Wall Street Journal.
  27. ^ Powers, Ann (21 September 2011). "Songs For Troy Davis: Why Musicians Take On Death Row". NPR.
  28. ^ The Jimmy Dore Show (4 June 2018), The Amazing Nellie McKay's Anti-War Song Update!, retrieved 5 June 2018
  29. ^ Live Jimmy Dore Show (11 February 2020), Chris Matthews Fears Execution Under Bernie Presidency, retrieved 15 February 2018
  30. ^ Garelick, John (25 October 2018). "When Nellie McKay gets an idea, who knows what might happen?". Boston Globe.
  31. ^ Boilen, Bob (2 April 2008). "Nellie McKay Reveals 'Cavendish'". NPR. Retrieved 4 April 2012.

External links[edit]