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Nellie’s next to ‘Normal’

It’s hard to categorize Nellie McKay.

It’s hard to categorize Nellie McKay. She has released five albums with music of various genres, plays the ukulele, won a Theatre World Award for her performance in the 2006 Broadway revival of Brecht and Weill’s “The Threepenny Opera,” is an activist for animal rights, and opened for Lou Reed at Carnegie Hall. And that’s just scratching the surface.

McKay will bring her acclaimed cabaret show, “Normal as Blueberry Pie,” a Doris Day tribute that also contains original music, to the Tilles Center’s Hillwood Recital Hall for two performances on Saturday. The singer, whose show is based on her 2009 album of the same title, talked to Metro about embodying the music of her idol.

Tell us about “Normal as Blueberry Pie.”

Well, it’s a tribute to Doris Day. She’s been an inspiration to me for a very long time now, and she was an all-around performer. She was underappreciated.

Why Doris Day?

Even before I knew her work, I admired her animal league. She has the Doris Day Animal League and the Doris Day Animal Foundation, so there’s certainly that connection, because I’m involved in animal rights, as well. But then, she seems like one of those overlooked figures, and she shouldn’t be. And her catalogue is incredibly extensive. She recorded hundreds and hundreds of songs, so there was such a wealth of material to choose from that was irresistible.

Your album and show take its title from the song “Wonderful Guy,” from the musical “South Pacific.” Does the show’s set list only contain songs Doris Day sang?

We’ll probably do some original songs and probably some other covers. We’ll try to make it a nice variety.

What’s next for you?

Hopefully we’ll be traveling some more and, I don’t know, making more music. It almost seems too professional to plan. I prefer to just kind of chance it.

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