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Exclusive First Listen: Nellie McKay

When I heard that Nellie McKay was making a record paying tribute to Doris Day, I thought, "Perfect." I spent some time with McKay here at NPR, as she wrote and produced an original tune for our series Project Song, and I can honestly say that she's from another time. Doris Day and the '50s seems just about right.

Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day is an album free of cynicism, full of heart and more elegant than a mere nostalgia trip. McKay chose from more than 600 of Day's recordings for her tribute. Many of these songs are part of The Great American Songbook: "Sentimental Journey," "I Remember You," "The Very Thought of You" and so on. Songs by George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Burt Bacharach and Les Brown, as well as an original — a small curtsy to Doris Day, written by McKay, called "If I Ever Had a Dream."

What surprised me over and over again, hearing this record for the first time, was how fresh it sounded; how the spare and creative arrangements kept these songs from turning into background music. What didn't surprise me is how beautifully rich McKay's voice sounds as she fills these tunes with the sun and warmth they deserve.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.