- Associated Press - Monday, May 8, 2017

LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) - For Brant Wimmer, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at North Davidson Middle School, music is a family affair. Three years ago, Brant said, he picked up the guitar to feel closer to his grandfather, and now he plays in a bluegrass band with his sister. They perform all around the state.

“My grandpa really got me into it,” Brant said. “He played guitar, but then he passed away, and that’s how I started. I think it was a year after he died.”

Brant’s talent has turned heads. He was recently awarded a $500 scholarship from the Wayne C. Henderson Scholarship Committee. The $500 will be used to pay for individual or group lessons where Brant will have the chance to hone his skills in the acoustic Appalachian style of music.

Brant said he was excited to receive the scholarship because it gives him the opportunity to learn from well-established local bluegrass artists.

“I knew it would really help me because this scholarship lets me take lessons with Zeb Snyder,” Brant said. “And I knew that he was really good and it would help me out playing.”

Zeb Snyder is a member of the Snyder Family Band based in Lexington. He is known for his lead guitar and songwriting skills that pull from a wide variety of musical genres including southern rock, blues and country, according to the band’s website.

Though he has only been playing for three years, Brant has dedicated himself to learning as much about music as possible. He takes flatpicking lessons from John Powell in Mocksville, and he is also a graduate of a Dr. Banjo Jam-camp hosted by Gilbert Nelson.

His hard work seems to be paying off as The Flattops - the bluegrass band Brant plays in with sister, Lake, on the fiddle - won first place last year at the Alleghany fiddler’s convention. The Flattops also won second place in both the Ashe County and Bristol Rhythm and Roots festivals.

Brant is also active in the middle school’s chorus and plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar and the drums for the group under the instruction of Cathryn Cabaniss.

Cabaniss wrote in an email that she has had the “privilege” of teaching Brant since he began in chorus in sixth-grade, and has been consistently impressed with his passion and capacity to learn.

“Over these past three years, I have seen Brant develop into a fine musician,” Cabaniss wrote. “Brant is very talented and brings a great energy to the class, concerts and talent shows. He is passionate about music, particularly performing on the guitar, and I believe with his potential, talent and dedication, Brant has a bright future with his music.”

As Brant looks to his future, he said he hopes to learn as much about bluegrass as he can. He is also interested in eventually branching out and trying his hand at different genres of music.

“Bluegrass is a really good style of music, but I do prefer to sing rock (music). I don’t really like to sing in the bluegrass style. I really enjoy playing both, though,” Brant said.

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Information from: The Dispatch, https://www.the-dispatch.com


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