IIt's the rare match of musical styles and inspiration that makes Nellie McKay's new release Normal As Blueberry Pie a tribute to her longtime heroine Doris Day so perfect. The two have been linked since the young singer burst upon the scene, as critics scrambled to note her musical kinship.
So it's only natural that McKay's new CD (on Verve) would showcase an array of Day standards-interpretations of such classics as "The Very Thought of You," "Send Me No Flowers" and "Sentimental Journey." "We were trying to connect with the many time periods in Doris's life," McKay explains. "From the big bands to the post-McCarthy era."
Music is just one of the elements that bind the two-McKay is a longtime admirer of Doris Day's animal advocacy. "Doris was out there way before it was fashionable, fighting for the well-being and humane treatment of all animals," McKay notes respectfully. An avid activist herself, McKay is a vegan, active in the fight against New York's horse-drawn carriages and a longtime animal rescuer. The two dogs lounging with the singer on her new album cover are Hank and Bessie, whom McKay has been fostering for several months. "These dogs light up my life. After a show, it's really relaxing to take them out for a walk-good for them and me, too."
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Bark had the foresight to pair Nellie and Doris when we interviewed Ms. Day for these pages in 2006. Just what is it that makes Doris Day so special? "I was initially attracted to her optimism and her gaiety," McKay says. "Her approach to life is irresistible." Day possesses a trait that McKay is often cited for, a sunny but subversive smile. "The people most in need of Doris Day are the cynics," McKay observes. "She's such a breath of fresh air. People need that today."