Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Mysterious Disappearance of Connie Converse

Adam and I recently whiled away a pleasant evening with the inestimable David and Anne Garland and we spent the whole time talking about the mysterious disappearance of the folk singer/writer, Connie Converse. The story goes that she packed up her car in 1974, wrote good-bye letters to her friends and family and vanished. No one knows what happened to her after that, or if she is even alive today.

David stumbled across her music when he interviewed the illustrator, animator and filmmaker, Gene Deitch (who has made some of the only known recordings of her work) on his WNYC show Spinning On Air and was instantly moved by her songs.

Since then, David and Anne have been working together on getting the word out about the mysterious Connie Converse. Once Adam and I heard her music, we, too, joined in the struggle.

This is/was a seriously talented woman who never got her due as a musician and literary artist...until now. An indie label is releasing her collected works on March 10th and I really think anyone who appreciates true talent should give her a listen.

over and out.

17 comments:

  1. I honored to make your acquaintance, I'm a tweeter follower, and listen to Dave Garland every week. Your very talented, I'm jealous, and am wondering if you have a biography in the works?

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  2. Maybe she's off in some little cafe in Spain, strumming her guitar, sipping coffee, and loving life.

    I'll definitely check out her music. If just for the mystery surrounding it!

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  3. Wow! I've never heard of her before, but that's pretty mysterious. I love folk music though so will have to check that album out.

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  4. On the one hand I've never been a fan of folk music but on the other hand I've never been afraid to something new either. If you and Adam say this is worth listening to then who am I to argue?

    I will keep an eye out and thanks for the heads up!

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  5. I'm having a little listen to her stuff on myspace right now. I'm really liking it so far. Very mysterious the way she disappeared but hopefully wherever she is now she's happy.

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  6. There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle today about her. Much of her music was written in the 1950s....I'd visualized her as a product of the late-1960s, early-70s folk music scene, but no.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/07/PKRD161UOU.DTL&type=music

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  7. Thanks for this lovely post, Amber! Amber-fans please note: on March 15th WNYC will broadcast my hour-long radio documentary about Connie Converse WHICH INCLUDES AMBER BENSON reading some of Connie’s poems, letters, and journal entries. Amber did a wonderful job bringing those words to life.

    Listen Sunday, March 15th, 7 – 8 pm (EST) on WNYC-FM 93.9 (in New York), or world-wide at wnyc.org. After the broadcast the show will be available in the online Spinning On Air archive at wnyc.org

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  8. Hi Amber. I don't know if you remember or not, but we met at New York Comic Con a little over a month ago. I'm an English professor at a small college in New Jersey, and you said you'd be willing to take the time to answer a few questions about the process by which you write and work as a writer. At any rate, I completely understand if you are in fact too busy, but I figured I'd post this here as per your instructions at Comic Con. In case you don't remember I have long black hair, and you gave me a high-five. I can't wait until spring break next week when I can finally sit down and spend some quality time with your novel. I spend too much time reading what I'm teaching and not enough time reading what I want to.

    Best,
    Professor Calin Grajko
    cgrajko@camdencc.edu

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  9. It sounds like a story that might make for a great movie. Now, where could we find an actress who could also sing to star in this sad mystery ... hm ... ?

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  10. I love her songs One by One and Johnny's Brother. Think I might have to learn them on guitar.

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  11. What a sound! She reminds me a little of Janis Joplin's really early recordings, way back when she snuck into Louisiana with friends and sung old Bessie Smith and Odetta songs in bars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLNjgWXJkBY

    Love them old tunes, thanks!


    [re: anonymous- that's really nifty, I live down the road from Camden County College! What are the odds...]

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  12. I read the story in the SF Chron yesterday, and felt a chill when I saw the name; I lived in Ann Arbor back in the late '60s, and knew her brother Phil and his wife Jean through the Friends Meeting there, across the street from a coffee house(the Ark) where I, myself, was an aspiring singer and songwriter. I was touched by Phil's desire to make sure that her music didn't disappear with her. And now that I've heard a few of the songs, I'm even more deeply moved.

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  13. Hey Steve,

    Her stuff is amazing. It makes me very happy to think her music will not be lost to the world.

    ab :)

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  14. I think the title of the album 'How Sad, How Lovely' is apt. Her music is beautiful, and her story moving. I happened upon another article - I hope it hasn't already been posted here.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-sachs/50-years-late-connie-conv_b_173386.html

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  17. There's a documentary in production about Connie Converse (and I'm producing it)! The Kickstarter campaign just launched yesterday and it's already got over $650!

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/453344810/we-lived-alone-the-connie-converse-documentary

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