After board member and long-time friend Samson Trinh’s introduction of Nellie McKay to the nearly full house in Studio A, she stepped to the microphone, ukulele in hand, and began to sing without saying a word.
She immediately captivated the audience with her sweet and wide vocal range. During the rest of the evening she proved that great things really can come in small packages. Besides singing and playing both ukulele and piano, she did several funny yet poignant “conversations” with herself as subtle commentary on today’s political landscape. In a word, Nellie was entertaining.
Towards the end of the all-too-short evening, which kicked off with yet another spectacular potluck buffet, Samson joined Nellie, now on the studio’s grand piano, for a couple of songs playing saxophone. The evening was capped off when local jazz vocalist and musician John Winn (who happened to be in attendance) joined the two (at Samson’s urging) for an improvised jazz vocalization number known as “scat” singing. The audience signaled their approval of the performance, and the evening in general, with a standing ovation.
Nellie McKay is hard to categorize. She’s done Brecht on Broadway, opened for Lou Reed at Carnegie Hall, sung Woody Allen movie songs at the Hollywood Bowl, performed on A Prairie Home Companion, duetted with Eartha Kitt and Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, played Hilary Swank’s sister on the big screen, paid tribute to Doris Day, and released three wildly acclaimed albums of original music.
Her music is as tuneful and clever as the best of the Great American Songbook – part cabaret, part sparkly pop. But beneath the charming melodic surface is a wit that cuts, and a sharply tuned social conscience.
Sister Orchid marks Nellie McKay‘s seventh label release. Previous albums include, Pretty Little Head Obligatory Villagers, Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day, Sweet Mobile Home, Get Away From Me and My Weekly Reader (both co-produced by Beatles engineer, Geoff Emerick.
She won a Theatre World Award for her Broadway portrayal of Polly Peachum in The Threepenny Opera. As a motion picture actress, Nellie has been in “P.S. I Love You” and “Downtown Express.” Film soundtracks include “Rumor Has It”, “Monster-in-Law” and her music has been heard on television’s “Mad Men”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “Weeds”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “NCIS” and “Nurse Jackie”. Nellie has performed 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, and Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. The Chase Brock Experience produced a ballet of her album, Obligatory Villagers, and her writing has appeared in The Onion, Interview, and The New York Times Book Review.
Nellie is a recipient of PETA’s Humanitarian Award and The Humane Society’s Doris Day Music Award in recognition of her dedication to animal rights.