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Crazy Cool: Nellie McKay in Concert

Nellie McKay is a singer-songwriter known for her distinctive mix of jazz vocals and torch singing with cabaret pop, rock and a rap-inspired rants. Clever and darkly comedic, McKay layers caustic lyrics over jaunty piano lines, creating a surprising juxtaposition of conflicting moods that keep the listener guessing. Hear McKay in a full concert originally webcast live from the Birchmere music hall in Alexandria, VA Mar. 27, 2007.

Nellie McKay was born in London in 1982 but grew up in the U.S. As a teenager she attended the Manhattan School of Music , but dropped out. She briefly tried work as a standup comic, but ultimately turned back to music and began playing clubs and cafes in Manhattan.

In 2003, McKay signed with Columbia Records and surprised many in the industry by convincing the major label to release her sprawling debut Get Away From Me as a double disc, a rare feat in the business.

The 18 tracks on Get Away From Me (a play on the Norah Jones album Come Away With Me) were well received. But Columbia Records balked when McKay tried to release her follow-up album as a double disc as well. McKay had roughly two-dozen tracks, but the label wanted to release just 16 on a single CD.

After sparring with the label and producers, McKay eventually left Columbia Records and released her sophomore album Pretty Little Head on her own in the fall of 2006. That same year she starred in the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera and started work in a movie.

Nellie McKay's live performance on is part of NPR Music's live concert series with All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen. Previously featured artists are listed above right.

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