Sarah McColl on Connie Converse

“Push through the self doubt and keep going.”

When writer Sarah McColl stumbled on a mesmerizing folk song by an artist who had disappeared, she was spellbound with the mystery of singer-songwriter Connie Converse. Connie’s lyrics were unlike anything anyone was writing in the 1950’s; her songs spoke of drunken afternoons, the joy of single living and being a broke artist. She wrote, recorded and performed her songs, even on national television…but her career never took off. In the mid 1970s, Connie hung up her guitar and was never heard from again, by friends, family or anyone. The mystery of Connie’s disappearance remains unsolved. Where did she go? In 2009, after coming across Connie’s rare recordings, young Brooklyn producers released her first record, How Sad, How Lovely, to critical acclaim. Sarah says it perfectly: “I wish she had gotten what she deserved in her lifetime.”

Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.


Sarah McColl

Sarah McColl is the author of the memoir, JOY ENOUGH (Liveright/W.W. Norton & Company, 2019) and LOST ART, a newsletter about the creative work of (mostly) dead women. She teaches creative writing and lives in Northern California with her family.

Featured Woman

Connie Converse

Elizabeth Eaton Converse was born on August 3, 1924, in Laconia, New Hampshire. Her childhood was spent in Concord, New Hampshire, with her strict Baptist family. She excelled in high school as the valedictorian, which earned her a scholarship to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. But after only two years of college, Elizabeth moved to New York City to pursue music. Her new lifestyle in Greenwich Village was antithetical to her religious upbringing — she smoked, she drank, she even changed her name to Connie. In 1954, Connie performed on The Morning Show on CBS with Walter Cronkite, and two years later, she recorded an album with her younger brother, Phil. But after struggling to find mainstream success like other folk musicians, Connie moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she worked as a secretary, then Managing Editor for the Journal of Conflict Resolution. She never wrote music again. In 1974, just days after she turned 50, Connie wrote letters to friends and family that conveyed she was leaving to start a new life. Despite efforts, no one ever saw her again. In 2004, her old friend Gene Deitch, played some of Connie’s unreleased songs on a New York music historian radio show. Young producers (and fans) released her first album, How Sad, How Lovely, to very favorable reviews. When her music (and the mystery surrounding her) became publicly available, many became deeply fascinated with Connie — believing that she might be the earliest performer in the singer-songwriter genre.