Remembering Gerald Anderson

Master mandolin maker Gerald Anderson. Photo by Morgan Miller/Virginia Folklife Program.

I’m sure we join so many throughout Southwest Virginia and beyond in our sadness and shock to learn of the passing of Gerald Anderson. Gerald was a fine luthier, player, and singer, but most of all one of the kindest, generous, and most humble people to walk those beloved Blue Ridge Mountains he called home. Gerald was one of the first master artists in our Folklife Apprenticeship Program, mentoring the then very young Spencer Strickland, who has gone on to be a most gifted luthier and player as well. Gerald himself apprenticed in Wayne Henderson’s shop for nearly 30 years, learning the tricks of the trade making guitars and mandolins, and emulating Wayne’s unique guitar picking style. When we produced our book chronicling the first five years of our apprenticeship program, entitled In Good Keeping, we chose to put Gerald’s hands sculpting a mandolin on the cover. For Gerald truly kept the lessons passed down from the great luthiers of the past in the best of care. There’s an old saying that it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. Gerald was both of those things, but clearly it is his tenderness and sweetness that folks will most remember about him. We had the pleasure of “working” with Gerald many times over the years, and like so many of the folks we work with Gerald became family. We are so heartbroken today but also so grateful that this world had Gerald. Goodbye, sweet friend.

–Jon Lohman