Renowned vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern dies after being pushed to the ground in a ‘needless’ attack in NYC


A well-known Broadway singing coach died of severe brain damage after being pushed to the ground by a stranger in New York City.

Barbara Maier Gustern, 87, was left in critical condition when, on March 10, while walking near her home in the Chelsea neighborhood, she was knocked down without provocation from behind, banging her head on the pavement.

The classically trained singer has tutored numerous musical, operatic and pop music stars including Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry, drag artist and playwright Taylor Mac, feminist punk singer Kathleen Hanna and performers in the 2019 Broadway musical revival Oklahoma!

Her grandson, AJ, announced through her Facebook page that she had died Tuesday March 15 at 11:15 a.m. local time.

“Today we lost one of the brightest little flames this world has ever graced,” said AJ.

“I’m asking you all to give me a little time and space, but I want to make time for anyone and everyone who wants to know more about their final moments.”

In a previous post announcing Ms Gustern’s injury, AJ said: “I am heartbroken beyond belief… do what you can for those around you, no matter how small. Take your time. Preventing unnecessary loss and violence like this starts with us as individuals. We need to take care of each other more.”

Police released surveillance footage of Ms Gustern’s alleged attacker, showing a young woman with pale skin and red hair, wearing a black jacket over a white skirt or dress, black tights or leggings and a black scarf or choker. A $3,500 (£2,660) reward is being offered by police “for information relating to a murder”.

Friends and relatives told The New York Times that Ms. Gustern initially remained conscious after the injury and told a friend: “I have never been hit so hard in my life.”

She reportedly gave police a description of her attacker and said the woman shouted a derogatory term before shoving her.

That evening, friends said, she had rushed to Joe’s Pub in the Public Theater to watch one of her students perform. She usually taught singers in her own apartment and worked 10 hours a day.

Shortly before her death, AJ The times: “She is just a ball of light in a world that is often dark and makes no sense.”

Several members of the international music industry have publicly asked to help find Ms Gustern’s killer, including Blondie guitarist Chris Stein.

Mr. Stein tweeted a photo of a wanted poster looking for the attacker and wrote: “NYC guys someone knows this person.” Renowned vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern dies after being pushed to the ground in a ‘needless’ attack in NYC

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