There’s something about Nellie McKay that’s utterly desirable. A soulful pre-World War Two jazz singer stuck in the body of a — well rather beautiful – twenty-something piano/ukulele player, McKay’s syrupy voice, clever lyrics and snappy piano playing gently contradicts her rather choppy speaking pattern and random series of impassioned tangents. When watching McKay perform there is no doubt that this chick is way beyond her years and possesses the single quality that most of us quarter-lifers lack: she’s simply, and quite unapologetically, herself.
I have been a fan of Nellie for years, but it wasn’t until this past Saturday that I had the chance to check her out live at the Zipper Factory in NYC. The space was warm and intimate and embodied the fleeting off-off Broadway spirit that once flourished on the western side of midtown Manhattan. I suck at pretty much anything fashion so excuse me if I cannot explain to you what she was wearing, but I’ll give you this: it was sparkly and corset-like. Later in the concert Nellie joked that she got the outfit from Shania Twain who donated her clothes to the Vegetarian Relief Fund after the divorce — prompting McKay to ask the audience if Shania was a vegetarian or vegan. I quickly yelled out vegan…come on it’s my job to know these things! (Note: While famousveggie.com reports that Shania is vegan, I have found other reports saying she eats dairy. Anyone know?)
Nellie soared through her first few songs, and I must admit, I was worried she wasn’t going to talk to us at all! But as the night moved on McKay became more comfortable and by the end she was chatting up a storm! Nellie is famous for her outspoken views on animal rights and told us that she thought the writers of the Sex and The City Movie were “just so stupid” by characterizing the animal rights activists that appear in the film as ugly and disgusting. There was some audience participation too. She asked us to cry at one point and gave us topics in case we needed help: Dick Cheney smiling, Ann Coulter holding a puppy…Bill Murray.
Overall the evening was absolutely delightful! It’s always encouraging to see a performer (especially a young one) who stands up for what she believe in and isn’t influenced by the Hollywood norm. For it is those differences that make McKay’s music unique and keep her fans coming back for more. To listen to some of her tunes or find out more about Nellie McKay vist NellieMcKay.com.