Nellie McKay takes to the Feinstein’s/ 54 Below stage tomorrow to bring back her 2014 concert that the New York Times called the best of the year. A GIRL NAMED BILL – The Life and Times of Billy Tipton centers around the music of one of the first transgender female to male performers. Billy Tipton, who died at 74, was a gifted jazz musician. Tipton, who most people had assumed to be a man, who had had at least five wives and had adopted three sons, was in fact a woman. The news that Tipton, a pianist and saxophonist, was a woman came as a shock to nearly everyone, including the women who had considered themselves his wives, as well as his sons and the musicians who had traveled with him. back when Billy started women just didn’t get hired in jazz.
Nellie 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, the 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.
A recipient of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Humanitarian 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.
Nellie has released six full-length albums, including Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day and her latest, My Weekly Reader, music of the ‘60s produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick.
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 films PS I Love You and Downtown Express, as well as writing original music for the Rob Reiner film Rumor Has It and contributing to the Emmy-winning documentary, Gasland.
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.