Howard Fishman's To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse (Dutton, 2023) is a fascinating hybrid biography that weaves together Fishman's own odyssey of research with the surprising life story he uncovers. Connie Converse was a gifted songwriter whose music came to public notice more than fifty years after it was recorded. Her album How Sad, How Lovely has taken its place alongside albums by rediscovered artists like Karen Dalton, Kath Bloom, and Sibylle Baier. In Converse's case, though, it was not only her music that disappeared. Following a series of personal and professional crises, Converse drove away from her home in Ann Arbor, never to be heard from again. When Fishman visited Ann Arbor to meet Converse's brother, he was shown an archive of several filing cabinets that revealed Converse as much more than a singer and guitarist. She composed art songs, song cycles, and operas. She was also managing editor at the Journal for Conflict Studies and authored a pioneering analysis of structural racism. To Anyone Who Ever Asks gives us a fuller portrait of Converse than has ever before been available, even as it reveals the many gaps that remain in her story.
Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts.