Finally finished “To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music and Mystery of Connie Converse”  — it took three, 1.5 hr reading sessions, almost 2 months apart, because…? time and demands on time…

Writer Howard Fishman imparts a gentle, generous offering about a person whose art strikes a deep chord in seemingly everyone who encounters her.

Connie Elizabeth Converse (1924—disappeared 1974) wrote a lot, challenged a lot, questioned a lot, and lived… One reality of her life I’d love to share is that at a time when many socially conscious artists chose to sing  about politics and civil rights, Converse didn’t focus her voice/compositions on that subject matter. INSTEAD she contributed to anti-war and anti-racism movements through work with community organizations, journals, and protests. Most notably were her contributions to the Center for Research on Conflict Resolution in Ann-Arbor, where she became the managing editor for The Journal associated with that organization. There, she wrote/published a comprehensive analysis called, “The War of All Against All.” — THAT TITLE!

It felt like a beautiful, fated night when the voice and compositions of Connie Converse crossed my path. (🙏🏽 Zack Winokur) and I was just waiting for the moment to lend my voice to her material.

I first sang this 1954 song, “One By One” in 2018, as an encore to a program which opened with songs by Franz Schubert, and concluded with material by B/black women who not only performed, but wrote the blues & jazz tunes, and pushed the art form forward (Alberta Hunter, Lovie Austin, Pat Clastleon, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone). Sexual and social liberation was explicit in their work…

Over the past 7 years, I’ve sung more of Connie Converse’s songs in concert (with new piano arrangements by Jeremy Siskind and Bretton Brown); and introduced the songs as such to audience members:

“I first heard American composer Connie Converse’s music via recording years ago where she sang and self-accompanied on the guitar. As the poetry and lyrics unfolded, they reminded me of my favorite art song and lieder. She went on to write songs for piano & voice, and had aspirations for writing an opera. So… I hope my inclination to include her in song recital formats would have made her happy… “

In 2020, after hearing an iphone video recording I posted online of, “One By One”, Howard Fishman wrote to me, and asked to have a conversation/converse about Converse. We had a few…

I invite everyone to read this truly lovely, in-depth book (with years of extensive research, unapologetic inclusion of details, interviews, documentation and an appendix) — whether for music’s sake, or just out of interest to be introduced to someone fascinating.

Howard: thanks for reaching out, and staying in touch.  This book helps to secure Connie Converse’s legacy more broadly — and how brilliant. Also thank you for closing your book with an ode to artists and art — it honors those who are recognized and dismissed… and hopefully remembered if they must be rediscovered.

And to Connie: whatever drove you to make the choice to go away, I hope that you found the liberty and peace you sought after…

Listen to Connie Converse sing One by One here.

A performance of One by One with pianist Bretton Brown on a 2023 live broadcast in the Netherlands.


A 2020 iPhone video recording I posted online of her song, One By One. After watching/hearing this, Howard Fishman wrote to me, and asked to connect/converse about Converse. (Piano arrangement by Jeremy Siskind; Christian Reif on piano.)