Filed Under:

Piney Gir: From 'The Muppets' To 'Geronimo'

Play associated audio

What do you do if you're an aspiring drummer and someone steals your drum set? Well, if you're Piney Gir, you become a singer — because, as she figured it, they can't steal your voice.

Gir grew up in a fundamentalist Pentecostal household in Kansas, attending church four or five times a week. She got the solos in the choir and grew to love performing. The singer, whose real name is Angela Penhaligon, eventually found her way to London and the world of indie art-rock.

Her sound has been compared to Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, but on her latest album, Geronimo, Gir sometimes seems to be conjuring up '60s pop from girl groups to The Troggs. The singer-songwriter spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about making the album, her music influences and her next project.

Interview Highlights

On naming the album Geronimo

"There's a double meaning to that title because I'm a little bit Native American. I came back to the States to record this album, and it felt like a bit of a homecoming. And there's a lot of tribal drums on it, so that's a bit of homage to him. But also, it's that fearlessness, that battle cry. I wanted to do something I'd never done before, and I wanted to do it with my whole self and dive in and just try something new. So it's that kind of 'Geronimo!' So it has those two significances for me."

On recording with a live band

"I think you get a certain live energy when you can look at your drummer in the face or you can glance over at your guitarist and give him a wink. You can even take the song in a bit of a more jammy direction because you can take it as it comes versus contriving it and structuring it in a rigid way. So it gave us a kind of freedom."

On musical influences growing up

"I grew up mainly on a diet of church music, which was sort of bluegrass and gospel influence with a bit of 'happy-clappy' thrown in there — you know, that kind of happy Jesus music where people play tambourines and dance around, very melody-driven. In that sense, I can thank my church education. ... Friday nights, my dad was often doing a youth ministry. My mom and I would watch The Muppets and that was amazing. Johnny Cash was on there and Elton John. I got kind of hooked on The Muppets, so that probably planted the seed."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


Boston Museum Exhibit Celebrates Legacy Of Black Mountain College

Black Mountain College was only open for 24 years, but it helped foment the work of several artists, musicians, dancers and filmmakers, including John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Cy Twombly. Now it's the subject of the first major museum retrospective at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art.

High-Sodium Warnings Hit New York City Menus

The city is the first in the nation to require a sodium warning on menu items containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more. The rule applies to chain restaurants with 15 or more locations.

World Leaders To Debate Role Of Nuclear Power At U.N. Climate Summit

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Matthew Bunn, a nuclear and energy policy analyst and professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School, about the role nuclear power will play in the future. As world leaders meet in Paris for the U.N. climate summit, they discuss if countries are moving away or toward nuclear energy and and given safety and budget concerns, whether atomic power makes sense anymore.
WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.