McKay 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, and A GIRL NAMED BILL – The Life and Times of Billy Tipton, named one of the Best Concerts of 2014 by The New York Times.
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 (“among the killer overhauls of American standards” – The New York Times) and her latest, My Weekly Reader, music of the ‘60s produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick (“[Nellie] manifests more historical grasp than any psych band yet to show its hand. – Robert Christgau).
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.