Nellie McKay Makes Kennedy Center Debut

The 2018-2019 Renée Fleming VOICES series continues with singer-songwriter Nellie McKay on Friday, February 8, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. in the Terrace Theater. McKay's one-night-only solo set will include songs from her recent Sister Orchid, as well as others in her catalog. Tickets for this performance are $25-$35.

Part cabaret, park sparkly pop, yet always sultry and sometimes unpredictable, British-American artist Nellie McKay is impossible to categorize. She has won a Theatre World Award for doing Brecht on Broadway with The Threepenny Opera, opened for Lou Reed at Carnegie Hall, sung Woody Allen movie songs at the Hollywood Bowl, performed on A Prairie Home Companion, and created tributes to the likes of Doris Day and Joan Rivers, and taken part in the Kennedy Center's 2011Swing, Swing, Swing celebration. McKay has also released several widely-acclaimed recordings of original music from among seven albums. But beneath the charming and melodic surface is a wit that cuts and a sharply tuned social conscience.

"I admire any artist with the strength of vision to chart and follow her own creative path, and it's hard to imagine a better example than singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Nellie McKay. Her sweet voice and innocent demeanor mask a singular ability to wield the catchiest popular music idioms of the last century in the service of a fiercely independent intellect," says Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor-at-Large Renée Fleming. "Her performances are thought-provoking, emotionally affecting, and fun, and I'm pleased that we are bringing her to the Terrace Theater."

The Renée Fleming VOICES series includes performances by outstanding artists from a wide range of genres including Broadway, jazz, pop, and opera. The 2018-2019 season continues with mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton (Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.), Theo Bleckmann (Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 9 p.m.), andPatina Miller (Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.).


Tickets ($25-$35) are available from the Kennedy Center Box Office, online, and by calling (202) 467-4600. To purchase a subscription for the Renée Fleming VOICES series, patrons should visit the Box Office, call the Subscription Office at (202) 416-8500, or go to Groups of 20 or more may contact the Kennedy Center Group Sales office at (202) 416-8400.

ABOUT Nellie McKay

Conjuring the image of a lonely all night truck stop along Highway 1 on the California coast, all but lost in the fog that comes creeping along the shoreline...this album speaks of the night, the outsider, the plaintive wail of those lost at sea. Sister Orchid was conceived in solitude, executed in darkness. It comes from a place of quiet, a world of low lights and cool drinks, up against a hard wall.

Sister Orchid is Nellie's seventh album, starting with Get Away From Me ("a tour de force" -The New York Times), including Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day ("among the killer overhauls of American standards" - The New York Times) and My Weekly Reader, music of the '60s ("...kicks serious butt. The results are beautiful." - PopMatters), her second collaboration with famed Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick. On Obligatory Villagers ("a brisk nine-song set that plays like the breathless first act of a stage musical decrying American fascism" - SPIN), local Poconos hometown jazz greats Bob Dorough, Phil Woods, and David Liebman contributed their exceptional talents.

She has won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum on Broadway in The Threepenny Opera, performed onscreen in the films PS I Love You and Downtown Express, and her music was used in Rumor Has It, Monster-in-Law, PS I Love You, Gasland, Last Holiday and Private Life.

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, 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. Her latest lady bio is The Big Molinsky - Considering Joan Rivers("unpredictable, thrilling...sardonic wit..." - The New York Times).

Nellie's music has been heard on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Weeds, Grey's Anatomy, NCIS, Nurse Jackie, and SMILF, and she has appeared on TV shows including The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, Ferguson, and The View. Nellie has made numerous radio appearances on NPR's Mountain Stage, A Prairie Home Companion, eTown, andMarion McPartland's Piano Jazz. The Chase Brock Experience produced a ballet of her third album, Obligatory Villagers, and she contributed the forward to the 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat. Her writing has also appeared in The Onion, Interview, andThe New York Times Book Review.


Renée Fleming VOICES is a concert series at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Curated by legendary soprano Renée Fleming, the VOICES series heralds the extraordinary power and vitality of the human voice across a wide range of genres, including Lawrence Brownlee, Billy Childs, Alan Cumming, Rinde Eckert, Cynthia Erivo, Megan Hilty, Ute Lemper, Jane Monheit, and Gregory Porter among others.

"The range of human vocal expression is virtually limitless-there are as many kinds ofVOICES as there are kinds of people. My goal for this series at the Kennedy Center is to celebrate the best singing in styles that may be familiar, and also to expose audiences to types of vocal music that might be totally new to them," says Ms. Fleming. "From the classical song recital, to cabaret, bluegrass, rap, and world music, the common thread will be vocalism of exceptional quality or innovation, representing a diverse range of styles."

The performances offered in Renée Fleming VOICES will take full advantage of the Kennedy Center's wealth of performance spaces. Each concert has been scheduled in a venue with the size and acoustic character that best suits the music; featured performance spaces range from the intimate 160-seat Jazz Club to the expansive 2,465-seat Concert Hall.

For more information, go to

ABOUT The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America's living memorial to President Kennedy. Under the guidance of Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter, the nine theaters and stages of the nation's busiest performing arts facility attract more than three million visitors to more than 2,000 performances each year, while Center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts reach 40 million more around the world.

The Center produces and presents performances of music, dance, comedy, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a leader in arts education. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the Center has produced more than 300 theatrical productions and dozens of new ballets, operas, and musical works, in addition to hosting numerous international cultural festivals. The Center's Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning The Kennedy Center Honors is broadcast annually on CBS and annual The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is broadcast on PBS.

The education programs of the Kennedy Center, including those of its affiliate VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, have become models for communities across the country and have unlocked the door to learning for millions of young people. Education at the Kennedy Center produces and presents age appropriate performances and educational events, and fosters innovative programming, curriculum, and professional development for students, teachers, and families.

The Center and its affiliates stage more than 400 free performances by artists from throughout the world each year on the Center's main stages, and every day of the year at 6 p.m. on its Millennium Stages, which are also streamed live, online. The Center also offers reduced and complimentary tickets to young people, active members of the military, and the underserved through its MyTix program and offers a Specially Priced Tickets program for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, and others with fixed low incomes.

To learn more about the Kennedy Center, please visit

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