TIM HENDERSON (1940–2011) singer–songwriter, was born on February 19, 1940, in Charleston, West Virginia. He was the son of Carmelite and Karl L. “Bud” Henderson. While raising an Appalachian Mountain family of seven children Tim’s parents both worked to make ends meet. His father was employed by DuPont, and his mother was a teacher. The children were raised largely by their maternal grandparents, Jim and Macel Hagerty. His grandmother played the mountain dulcimer and sang old-time folksongs of Scotland and Wales. Young Tim Henderson played the piano when he was nine, and at age fourteen he received his first guitar. He graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Charleston in 1957. He was an Eagle Scout and a National Merit finalist.
He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute. In 1962 Henderson joined the United States Air Force, where he became a Russian linguist. After four years of service, he eventually returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from West Virginia State College in 1971. He had married his wife Marian in 1970; they had twins. During this time he worked a variety of jobs, including one summer in the coal mines—all experiences that would impact his songwriting.
In 1972 Henderson moved to Austin, Texas, where he attended graduate school at the University of Texas. He also taught technical German there. He worked as a technical writer as his day profession and in this capacity authored numerous manuals for such companies as Texas Instruments, AMD, and Motorola.
After his arrival in Austin and throughout the rest of his life, Henderson became known as one of the premier folk songwriters in the United States. He won the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk Competition in 1977. Throughout his songwriting career he counted among his many fans Tom Paxton, Townes Van Zandt, Stan Rogers, Peter Yarrow and Allen Damron. Quoting Townes, “His songs are soulful and solid, sprung from the soil of Texas. Sometimes witty, always wise. Never showy or shallow. His music has always impressed me as beautifully human.” His ballads included The Gringo Pistolero, Dust, Wildflower Time, Rusty Old Red River and Maria Consuelo Arroyo, a poignant ballad that was recorded by the Glaser Brothers and made the country charts. Henderson published more than 200 songs, and more than fifty of them have been recorded by other musicians. His longtime friend and musical colleague, Allen Damron, released Sweeping up Dreams—an LP of mostly Henderson’s songs—in 1985.
Henderson’s first record, Waiting for the Naked Girl to Call (1978) was produced by B.F. Deal Records and listed as one of Van Zandt’s favorite top 12 influential LPs. Several compilations followed: Vinegar Dust, SandSpurs, Paw Paws, Plain Brown Wrapper (cassettes), including two live recordings of songs titled Ballads at Grins and Just for Grins, as well as a comprehensive collection called The Wind Knows My Name (1999). He played at numerous festivals and other events across the United States, including the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas, the Mountain Stage in West Virginia, and the Woody Guthrie Memorial Festival in Tulsa, where he performed with Pete Seeger.
In 2010 Henderson released Winds of Texas on Berkalin Records, available on Amazon. The CD included “Come to the Bower,” a stirring story song about the battle of San Jacinto and a reference to the song that was reportedly played by several musicians as the Texas army engaged the Mexican troops.
Tim was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Academy of Texas Music in 2011 for his “timeless contributions to Texas music”.
Tim’s six-CD Legacy Collection is available as of September, 2016: Vol 1, Gone to Texas; Vol 2, Live in Texas; Vol 3, Damron Sings Henderson; Vol 4, West Virginia in my Dreams; Vol 5, Songs of Protest; Vol 6, In My Eyes.