Penny Anderson is a singer, songwriter, crankie maker, composer and teacher based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I've been fascinated all my life by the oddity, humor, and strange beauty of old songs. I know hundreds of songs from American, British, and French traditions, which I sing unaccompanied, with autoharp, concertina or, very occasionally, with fiddle or hurdy-gurdy.
I also make original songs for solo, small group, or choral performance. You can hear my early work in this vein on my somewhat solipsistic home-made CD, Music at Home. A new one is in the works, including the voices of others this time, I hope.
In the past year I've acquired new singing partners, the lovely Daphne Beers and Jake Kilburg. We are Monongahela Harmony, and our motto is "If we like it, we sing it."
I love many kinds of singing, including shape-note singing, and I organize a regular monthly sing in the Pittsburgh area. Some of my compositions are strongly influenced by styles of the shape note tradition, and I've had a piece published in the thrice-yearly online publication The Trumpet.
My curiosity about the origins of the tradition led me into a lot of reading and listening, and ultimately into teaching a course on the choral music of revolutionary-era New England for the University of Pittsburgh's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and a similar mini-class for the Augusta Heritage Institute..