Hailed by the New Yorker as “funny and touching, ceaselessly clever and scarily talented,” Nellie McKay has recently finished an extended run in the off-Broadway hit Old Hats (winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Alternative Theatrical Experience and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revue), and has written three acclaimed musical biographies, Silent Spring: It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature, an exploration of environmental pioneer, Rachel Carson, and I Want to Live!, the story of Barbara Graham, the third woman executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin, and her latest, A GIRL NAMED BILL - The Life and Times of Billy Tipton. David Byrne tells the Wall Street Journal, "Her last two 'cabaret' shows I saw have been jaw-dropping. They both completely subverted the genre,"… 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.'"
For her 2014 show Nellie with a Z, The New York Times writes "[McKay] wears the mystique of a willful prodigy who is smarter, more talented and hipper than everyone else: a performer who answers only to herself. Gifts that others spend years refining seem to come naturally to her…. she can write and sing in any style, and you can’t always be certain that one of her original songs is not an obscure period piece."
Nellie produced her critically acclaimed, debut double album Get Away From Me with Beatles' engineer Geoff Emerick, followed by Pretty Little Head, Obligatory Villagers, Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day, ("among the killer overhauls of American standards” - The New York Times), and her latest, Home Sweet Mobile Home. She has won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum in the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera and performed onscreen in the film PS I Love You, as well as writing original music for the Rob Reiner film Rumor Has It and the Emmy-winning documentary, Gasland.
Nellie’s music has been heard on the TV shows Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Weeds, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS and Nurse Jackie, and McKay has appeared on numerous TV shows including Late Show with David Letterman (with the Brooklyn Philharmonic). In 2010, the Chase Brock Experience produced a ballet of Obligatory Villagers and Nellie contributed the forward to the 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat, by Carol J. Adams. Her writing has also appeared in The Onion, Interview and The New York Times Book Review, where she delivered an incisive in-depth review of a Doris Day biography.
A recipient of The Humane Society’s Doris Day Music Award in recognition of her dedication to animal rights, Nellie is known as an outspoken and fierce advocate for feminism, civil rights and other deeply felt progressive ideals.