REMEMBERING BROOK ZERN
Flamenco aficionado and a major contributor to the appreciation of flamenco in the United States
February 10, 1941 – June 22, 2019
Brook Zern, a longtime resident of New York, Andalusia (Spain), and Martha’s Vineyard, was immersed in the world of flamenco for over 50 years – a journey he shared with his wife Kristin. Called a “flamenco historian" in the New York Times, Brook preferred to think of himself as a devoted aficionado of one of the world’s greatest and most powerful cultural creations. In 2008, he was knighted by the King of Spain for the dissemination of Spanish culture in the US.
While in Andalusia, he spent countless hours in private homes, bars and roadside ventas of Seville and Jerez and such small towns as Moron de la Frontera and Utrera. He knew many legendary artists, including singers Juan Talega, El Chocolate, Fernanda de Utrera and Manuel Agujetas; dancers El Farruco, Angelita Vargas and Manuela Carrasco; and guitarists (and his teachers) Sabicas, Diego del Gastor and Mario Escudero. He went on to lecture at universities, festivals and cultural events, appear on television and radio, and write articles for many American and Spanish publications and websites, including the New York Times, the Village Voice, and deflamenco.com. In 1987, after a long effort, he helped to assure the preservation of the prominent Spanish Television series Rito y Geografia de Cante.
To many people in the flamenco community, he was an invaluable resource with his deep knowledge and expert advice. For us, he was always there to lend a helping hand - whether with artist recommendations, visas, program notes or proper translations, among other things. It was an inspiring experience to sit near him at a flamenco event, because the stories and critiques were so wonderful. Brook, we will miss you!