was headed to a career in directing musical theatre, when a serendipitous encounter with Carlos Montoya would turn her world
upside down and make her reconsider her future aspirations of Broadway and musical theatre in exchange for a future with a
flamenco guitar instead.
Anita had heard Carlos Montoya,
nephew of Ramón Montoya, one evening in Vicente Gomez’s club La Zambra. Transformed by the music and passion that came from Montoya’s guitar, Anita looked up his
phone number in the Manhattan phone directory and showed up at his door with guitar in hand and asked the maestro to give
In his own charming
way, Carlos tried to discourage Anita from taking this step by telling her that he could not possibly teach her anything because
he could not read music, and all the music he played was lost the moment it sounded off his guitar, since it all was improvised
and he could not remember what he had played.
On Anita’s insistence,
Montoya played a fiery piece of music and later asked her to repeat it. Anita asked if she could come back the following evening
after she had practiced the piece. Carlos smiled and agreed, thinking that would be the last time he would see her.
The following evening, Anita was knocking on the Montoya’s door. Once again, guitar
in hand, she proceeded to play the piece Carlos has spontaneously composed the previous night. He was so impressed that he
took Anita Sheer as the only pupil he would ever teach.
would take lessons from Carlos Montoya for the next 2 years and later performed with him — the only two times he would
share the stage with any performer.
While taking flamenco
lessons from Montoya, Anita also continued a career in folk music appearing on stage with the likes of Theodore Bikel, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan,
Pete Seeger and Jose Feliciano. She also appeared on the Tonight
Show and had some cameo roles in motion pictures,
including Coronet Blue with
Candice Bergman and Jon Voight.
career would bring Anita to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1981. Here she began a new career as a classical guitar performer and along with a core group of flamencos started the Flamenco
Society of San José in 1982. Anita also began to teach flamenco guitar at De Anza College in Cupertino. This class
was the first in the United States to be given for college credit.
died of cancer on July 8, 1996. The Flamenco Society of San
José is her legacy.