Come join us for a presentation and signing featuring New Yorker writer and former New Orleans resident Howard Fishman who spent twelve years excavating the life and pursuing the story of vanished musical pioneer Connie Converse. The result is TO ANYONE WHO EVER ASKS: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse, recently chosen by Pitchfork as one of the Top 10 Music Books of 2023. Part biography, part detective story, and part inward journey, the book investigates the pioneering work of this lost songwriter, singer, scholar, artist, poet, and activist, revealing at last a major figure in American culture, overlooked until now.
The mysterious true story of Connie Converse—a mid-century New York City songwriter, singer, and composer whose haunting music never found broad recognition—and one writer’s quest to understand her life
The story of Connie Converse is a haunting musical mystery. Her recordings were too good, her story too otherworldly. She lived in New York City in the ’60s and ’70s, producing recordings that few would hear. Then, after years of attempting to make it as a musician, she simply drove off one day and was never heard from again. When Howard Fishman first heard her music, he became obsessed with finding out the truth of what happened to this pioneer singer-songwriter.
Connie’s music was groundbreaking, ahead of its time, and as a result was largely ignored by all but a close circle of friends. Howard approaches her story as both a fan and a detective, and expertly weaves a narrative of her life and music, highlighting all the ways that it has come to speak to him as both an artist and a person.
TO ANYONE WHO EVER ASKS is rife with mystery and narrative thrust, but also looks at many of the deeper questions that haunt the artistic community. What does it really mean to be successful? What does it mean to be an outsider? When did music, and the creation of art, become so reliant on rigid classifications? And, as
Fishman works closely with many of Connie’s remaining family members, what is the role of a biographer in shaping and defining another person’s legacy?
Howard Fishman is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, where he has published essays on music, film, theater, television, and culture. His essays have also appeared in Vanity Fair, Artforum, No Depression, San Francisco Chronicle, Mojo, and Salmagundi. Fishman’s writing was awarded First Prize for Arts and Entertainment Portfolio from the Society for Features Journalism, and he’s been an invited guest speaker on BBC Radio and on various NPR affiliates. His play, A Star Has Burnt My Eye, was a New York Times “Critics Pick.” As a performing songwriter, Fishman has toured widely as an international artist for over two decades. He has released eleven albums to date. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.