Michael Brewer

THE HENDERSON is proud to announce that Michael Brewer of Marion, Virginia has been awarded the first annual Gerald Anderson Lutherie Scholarship. 

When everything seems to be shut down or rescheduled due to the pandemic, The Gerald Anderson Lutherie at The Henderson is celebrating a first. This past November there was a small gathering of guitar builders in the Lutherie; wearing masks and maintaining protocol they proceeding to build their guitars. As an extra precaution, the master luthier himself, Wayne Henderson was kept safely at his home in Rugby, Virginia and kept updated as to the progress of the class throughout the week.

It was not easy for Wayne to be absent, this class was special, this was the first class to include a recipient of the first annual Gerald Anderson Scholarship. Wayne was not only present in spirit, he also chose to donate his honorarium as seed money for the initial scholarship. A wonderful way to honor his friend, Gerald and to honor the school that bears his name.  The recipient of this award was Michael Brewer of Marion, Virginia. 

According to Catherine Schrenker, executive director of The Henderson, “Michael had arranged to apprentice with Gerald Anderson prior to Gerald’s passing. Michael is also from Grayson County. It seemed fitting that Michael would be the one to launch this annual award. I can see Gerald smiling down.”

The mission of The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts is to preserve, promote and provide a learning experience that has its roots in the culture and heritage of our Southern Appalachian Mountains. Passing on the tradition of Lutherie to the next generation is an integral part of this mission. 

Schrenker explains ‘this guitar building workshop consists of one intensive week-long program, followed by one weekend of final construction of the guitar. Participants have the opportunity to build one acoustic Martin-style D28 guitar with a headstock inlay of their own design. The class begins on a Sunday afternoon and continues through the week, finishing the initial build on Friday. The class reconvenes after Spencer Strickland has finished and buffed everyone’s guitar/necks (a process that cannot be done by each participant due to the complexity and skill). During the two day reconvene process necks are fitted and guitars are strung up and tuned, and the jam begins.”

Since 2015 the Lutherie and wood shop have evolved at a rapid pace. Initially, Wayne Henderson and his good friend, Don Wilson toured the space and provided valuable input and then they sent in “the cavalry” according to Schrenker. That consisted of Gerald Anderson of Troutdale, VA. Gerald then brought in Spencer Strickland of Lambsburg, VA and Josh Reese of Asheville, North Carolina and together workshop by workshop and year by year the space has evolved into the amazing shop it is today. 

Prior to Gerald’s death in June 2019, Marty Howard from Munroe Falls, Ohio joined the team of artisans and began designing and creating templates, jigs, and systems that would not only expedite the process, but keep it unique to The Henderson design tradition. Marty was brought on board as an instructor after Gerald’s passing and Atwell Cersley from San Antonio, Texas has stepped in as Lutherie assistant during the workshops; installing and fixing equipment, sharpening tools, and general tasks/upkeep.

Today, Spencer Strickland has stepped into the shoes of Gerald Anderson, having apprenticed with Gerald for many years. Spencer leads the workshops and works with his team: Josh Reese and Marty Howard to organize the guitar building workshops under the watchful eye of Wayne Henderson. Wayne attends as his busy schedule allows. He has been missed during this past year.