Home Music The mysterious story of Connie Converse, the singer-songwriter who vanished : NPR

The mysterious story of Connie Converse, the singer-songwriter who vanished : NPR

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The mysterious story of Connie Converse, the singer-songwriter who vanished : NPR

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Connie Converse, photographed in New York Metropolis in June, 1958.

The Musick Group, Heroic Cities LLC


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The Musick Group, Heroic Cities LLC


Connie Converse, photographed in New York Metropolis in June, 1958.

The Musick Group, Heroic Cities LLC

The singer-songwriter Connie Converse has been described by followers as a precursor to Bob Dylan. However when she made music in New York Metropolis within the early to mid-Fifties, nobody paid a lot consideration. So she left the music scene to begin a brand new life. Then someday in 1974, Converse and her music disappeared.

A long time later, in 2009, a couple of early recordings had been launched for the primary time and instantly Connie Converse had an viewers. Ever since, these followers have been working to share her music and story with the world. One in all them, writer and musician Howard Fishman, revealed a complete biography of Converse in Could titled To Anybody Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Thriller of Connie Converse. And now a brand new album containing 32 songs shall be launched Aug. 11. It is a recording Converse made herself, at residence in 1956. She known as it Musicks. Fishman joined NPR’s Eyder Peralta to speak in regards to the enigmatic singer and composer. Hear the whole radio story above.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

Eyder Peralta: For these of us who do not know her, who’s Connie Converse?

Howard Fishman: She was a trailblazing pioneering music maker within the Fifties, whose music has solely not too long ago been found and given the popularity it deserves. She grew up in New Hampshire, went to school at Mount Holyoke, dropped out, and moved to New York Metropolis to pursue being a author. After being there for a couple of years, Converse started delving into making music at a time when the music she made actually had no context. Though she had a fanbase amongst folks that heard her in dwelling rooms and in salon settings, she was by no means in a position to break by commercially as a result of document firm executives did not really feel like there was any technique to market her music. Then in 1961, satisfied that the music trade was not going to have the ability to do something along with her in any case, she left New York and moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., to begin a brand new life.

Sooner or later she disappears. So we all know nothing about her after that?

Proper. After deciding that music possibly wasn’t the avenue that was going to be open for her, she left and for the following decade labored as a social justice champion, working in battle decision, working towards police brutality. After which she disappeared fully in 1974. She wrote letters to household and associates saying that she was going to begin a brand new life someplace and to not come searching for her, and she or he has by no means been heard from once more.

How did you first encounter her music?

I first heard a Connie Converse music at a vacation get together in 2010. It was known as “Speaking Like You.” Once I heard it, I had the sensation that I had heard the music all my life and likewise that I had by no means heard it earlier than. And the mix of these two emotions gave me goosebumps and began me down the rabbit gap that led to the guide that I launched a couple of months in the past.

This new album is known as Musicks. It is the second album of her work that is been launched. Inform us about it.

She made it in 1956. And what’s thrilling about this album is that it is the album Connie Converse needed to be made. She recorded it herself, she sequenced it herself, and it represents her imaginative and prescient.

The earlier Converse album, which is known as How Unhappy, How Beautiful, launched in 2009, is a compilation of Fifties-era Converse songs and recordings, a few of which had been recorded by her, however most of which had been recorded by any person else. It was assembled for the aim of introducing her to a listening viewers for the primary time. There have been solely 16 tracks. So this new album, with 32 tracks, is a significant bump in what is thought about Connie Converse and what has been commercially obtainable till now.

One monitor from the brand new album is a music about how possibly, inevitably, all of us find yourself alone. It is known as “One by One,” and it is haunting as a result of she disappears in actual life. I reside in Mexico, which is a spot the place greater than 100,000 individuals are reported lacking. And what you be taught on this music is that disappearance is extra heartbreaking than demise as a result of it leaves folks in a form of purgatory. They’re neither useless or alive.

I additionally really feel that, in a method, she’s a ghost. It is like her whole life was spent as an invisible girl who was in a position to see the longer term by giving us these items and pondering and writing and composing in methods which might be so frequent to us immediately, however had been under no circumstances frequent within the Fifties. After which I consider how, at age 50, she determined the world does not need me and I do not need it. And she or he selected to go. We do not know what occurred to her. Her physique was by no means discovered. Her automobile was by no means discovered.

Connie Converse, photographed in Schenectady, N.Y., Christmas, 1955.

The Musick Group, Heroic Cities LLC


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The Musick Group, Heroic Cities LLC


Connie Converse, photographed in Schenectady, N.Y., Christmas, 1955.

The Musick Group, Heroic Cities LLC

Do you will have a music from the album that you simply want to level us to?

One other music not launched till now’s “Once I Go Touring.” What I like about this music is considering Connie Converse as a traveler. She had wanderlust all through her life and she or he took far-flung highway journeys, going so far as cross-country in a automobile within the late ’40s, at a time when folks weren’t actually doing that only for the hell of it. After which coming again by Greyhound, going by the southwest, down into Mexico, up by the deep South. For a younger girl in her 20s from New Hampshire to be having these sorts of adventures was fairly uncommon on the time.

What do you assume Connie would consider the album being launched proper now?

That is fascinating, as a result of the notes on the album say that it is a non-public recording for her brother and sister-in-law. It is presumptuous of me to say something about what Connie Converse would have thought, however I consider that she felt strongly in her music, that she knew that it was good and essential, and I feel that she needed posterity to have it.

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