Have you ever just wanted to quit? Have you ever been so worn down by the unkind and the uncaring people in your particular sphere of work that you just decided that it wasn’t worth it any longer? Have you ever reached a saturation point of disappointment and smashed hopes and dreams and fantasized about just giving up on the thing or things you’re most passionate about because you just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, pay the price required to keep those dreams alive any longer? Have you ever just had enough?
Connie Converse (1924-?) decided she’d had enough. After spending the best years of her life trying to make it as a songwriter and composer in New York City, she quit. She turned her back on the music managers and agents and record producers who rejected her, over and over and over again, over the course of her fifteen sum odd years living in Manhattan. And she turned her back on her music -- the beautiful, haunting, ingenious, intensely personal music that she finally became convinced no one wanted to hear.
Connie spent the next portion of her life in Ann Arbor, Michigan working in academia, a time sadly devoid of almost any personal creative output. She made a mark for herself in the academic world, but she also sank into depression, alcoholism and mental illness. In 1974, she left again, this time for good. One day she simply drove away, leaving notes behind to friends and family that she needed to go and make a fresh start somewhere else. She’s never been heard from again.
Connie Converse’s music has since been discovered and embraced by legions of fans around the world. Recordings that she made while living in New York in her prime were released a few years ago on an album called “How Sad, How Lovely.” And now, an entirely different corpus of piano art songs have come to light, and have been recorded by the young artists Charlotte Mundy and Christopher Goddard. A new album --“Connie’s Piano Songs” -- will be released on Valentine’s Day, with a CD release show to follow on Feb. 17 in NYC.
The music industry people who told Connie Converse that no one would be interested in her songs are gone. The record industry people who told her that her music wasn’t commercial enough are gone. The producers and agents who condescended to her, the experts, they’re all gone. No one remembers them. No one cares who they were. They are forgotten.
Connie Converse’s music lives on, inspiring a new generation of listeners, revealing more and deeper shades of beauty and meaning as the years go by. Her music will continue to live on, as long as there are people with open ears, open minds, and open hearts.
Come hear Connie’s Piano Songs live and breathe for the first time ever on February 17th at Le Poisson Rouge. Come and celebrate the genius of this singular woman.
Tickets are here.