The Marysville Arts and Technology High School senior was seven when he got his first Silvertone but he didn't know how to play the instrument. It stayed mostly untouched in his room.
"It was sitting in my room for so many years because my mom didn't have money for guitar lessons," said Brendon, 17. "It was kind of like it was more of an ornament. It was a big dream and it seemed like it was getting farther and farther away."
He entered the foster care system in 2006 and went to live with foster parents Lance and Vicky Engle. A short time later, Brendon started taking guitar lessons. He hasn't stopped playing the guitar since and began composing songs three years ago.
Now Brendon is excited to share his original music with anyone who wants to listen. He's selling a CD of five instrumental songs he composed and performed and is donating all the proceeds to the Marysville Community Food Bank.
A food bank helped him when he was younger, Rotter said.
"When I lived with my mom we weren't exactly well off," he said. "My dad left the family early on and that's where the money came from. The food bank was there for us ... It allowed me to carry on and be able to eat."
Since music is one of his biggest passions, Brendon knew in September that he wanted to incorporate his guitar playing into his senior project. He began composing the tracks on his CD and finished in December. He visited Mirror Sound Studios in Shoreline in January to record his album, "The Journey." The recording session lasted about five hours.
The experience was Brendon's first time in a professional recording studio.
"I got to see how the music business really feels," he said. "I basically played my guitar on top of another guitar that I previously played and harmonized them together. It was my first time doing that and I did pretty well."
With the help of his father, Brendon learned how to inventory all 200 of the CDs that sell for a minimum of $7. He has played his guitar and sold his CDs outside of the Marysville Library several times now. Copies also are sold at Catholic Community Services in Everett.
People who buy the CDs often give him a few additional dollars when they hear the money is going to the food bank, Brendon said. He's sold at least 50 CDs so far and is motivated to sell every last one.
"It's a big way to give back," he said. "It makes me feel good and it's helping others at the same time."
The CD includes tracks performed on acoustic and electric guitar. Brendon said he enjoys branching out in different music genres and plays some jazz, blues, flamenco and metal.
"My philosophy around the guitar is there are a lot of people who study certain artists to be just like them," he said. "If you do that you become more of a carbon copy instead of your own unique sound so I branch out between different genres."
Brendon's foster parents are proud of him.
"We know how difficult the road is ahead for some teenagers, not to mention foster kids, so it's good for them to develop some tools and to find out as early as possible who they are so they can stay on a positive track moving forward," Lance Engle said.
After graduation, Brendon plans to attend college in the state. He wants to continue to study music and someday teach others how to play the guitar.
"I want to have some kind of musical career," he said. "I want to go as far as I can go shoot for the stars. I doubt I'll be the next Pink Floyd but I can always try."
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buy 'The Journey'
Marysville Arts and Technology High School senior Brendon Rotter's CD, "The Journey" can be bought at Catholic Community Services, 1918 Everett Ave. Everett. The CD is $7 and proceeds go to the Marysville Community Food Bank. For more information about buying the CD, call Teri Mattson at 425-374-6322.
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