If the name Connie Converse doesn’t ring a bell, it probably shouldn’t. Born Elizabeth Eaton Converse in New Hampshire in 1924, Converse dropped out of Massachusetts’ Mount Holyoke College after two years to pursue a career as an entertainer in Greenwich Village in the early ’50s. While performing at various clubs, her music came to the attention of amateur recording engineer Gene Deitch, who helped Converse snag a 1954 appearance on CBS’ The Morning Show.
Unable to further her career, she left New York in 1961 for Ann Arbor, Michigan, working as managing editor of the Journal of Conflict Resolution and playing the occasional house party. In 1974, in the face of several personal issues, Converse packed up her Volkswagen bug, left a few goodbye notes to her family and friends, and drove off never to be heard from again.
Though her music was released by Lau Derette Recordings in March 2009 as the compilation How Sad, How Lovely, her legacy is relegated to a pristinely-organized filing cabinet full of her letters, writings, drawings, and reel-to-reel tapes of her evocative singing. So to find out who she truly was and where she went, graduate student Andrea Kannes has created a Kickstarter campaign to fund her forthcoming documentary, We Lived Alone: The Connie Converse Documentary.
Kannes, who is currently getting a degree in Media Studies at The New School in New York, is hoping to earn $5,000 in order to fund a small trip to interview more of Converse’s family and friends. The amount would also account for additional equipment and touch-ups of footage from her previous interview with Converse’s brother, Phil, and sister-in-law, Jean. Explaining her reaction and connection to Converse, Kannes said, “I was alarmed by how visceral my reaction was to her voice, her melodies, her communication of intense loneliness and quiet wit. It was some kind of cosmic channeling of ideas and feelings and I felt like I knew exactly how she felt with each word hitting the air.”
Supporters of the campaign can receive everything from a t-shirt and handwritten thank-you notes (for a pledge of $50) to an executive producer credit (for pledges of $500 or more). The campaign currently has 18 backers pledging $800, with the campaign ending August 15th.
Below, you can watch the campaign’s trailer, which features Kannes further discussing Converse and interviews with her family soundtracked by some of Converse’s music.