Verso Studios at The Westport Library is proud to announce its inaugural Verso Book Club event, a discussion of To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse. Author Howard Fishman will be in person for the conversation and will hold a book signing.
PLEASE REGISTER HERE FOR THE EVENT, which will take place in THE TREFZ FORUM, on the Library's main level.
(You can purchase a copy of the book upon registration.)
Connie Converse was a groundbreaking mid-century New York City songwriter, singer, and composer whose haunting music never found broad recognition. This book is the tale of one writer’s quest to understand her life. She seemed to bridge the gap between traditional Americana (country, blues, folk, jazz, and gospel), the Great American Songbook, classical art song, and the singer-songwriter movement spurred on by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell — but she was doing it a decade before those figures arrived.
Fishman recounts what can be known about Converse’s life while offering readers insight into her work and why it was so far ahead of her time. The bizarre legend about Connie Converse that had become the prevailing narrative among those who had also discovered her music was that in 1974, at the age of 50, she simply drove off one day and was never heard from again. Could this have been true? A dozen years of research, travel to the places she lived, immersion into the voluminous effects she left behind, and hundreds of interviews later (including many with her friends and family members), Fishman gives readers a compelling book.
Converse has inspired many who come across her work and her fans are growing in numbers. There are now more than 10 million streams of her songs on Spotify and artists ranging from Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Big Thief to opera’s rising star Julia Bullock have covered her work. The hunger is there, and now after decades in darkness, in To Anyone Who Ever Asks, Fishman finally brings Converse into the light, telling her whole story, and placing her in the canon as a vital American artist, a missing link between a now old-fashioned kind of American music and the reflective, complex, arresting music that transformed the 1960s and music forever.
Howard Fishman is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, where he has published essays on music, film, theater, literature, travel, and culture. His essays have also appeared in Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, Artforum, San Francisco Chronicle, Mojo, The Village Voice, Jazziz, and Salmagundi. His play, A Star Has Burnt My Eye, was a New York Times “Critics Pick.” As a performing songwriter and bandleader, Fishman has toured internationally as a headlining artist for over two decades. He has released 11 albums to date, and is the producer of the album Connie's Piano Songs: The Art Songs of Elizabeth "Connie" Converse.
The Verso Book Club is a reading group engaging in discourse and discussion on new and classic books focusing on contemporary popular music, media, and culture, filmmaking, and artistic scenes. The Verso Book Club provides a forum for author talks on influence, craft, process, and approach. Author talks are recorded, archived, and promoted via the state-of-the-art Verso Studios.