New York, NY (May 4, 2009)–Obscure 1950s singer/songwriter Elizabeth “Connie” Converse disappeared in 1974, leaving behind a haunting body of recordings that would remain virtually unheard for the next 35 years. Today, newly launched Lau derette Recordings is proud to present How Sad, How Lovely, the first commercially available collection ever of Converse’s music. The 17-song album, re-mastered at Elias Arts studios, documents the work of this enigmatic artist during her time in New York in the 1950s.
Elias Arts’ Studio Operations Manager Dan Dzula and sound designer/engineer David Herman, were responsible for every aspect of the project. (Elias Arts is one of the leading original music production companies for advertising.)
Elizabeth Eaton (“Connie”) Converse was born in Laconia, New Hampshire in 1924. Most who knew her described her as a polymath. She attended Mt. Holyoke College on an academic scholarship beginning in 1942 and wrote for several campus publications. By 1944 she decided to leave college, at which point the records of her whereabouts are sparse until about 1949, when she made her way to New York City.
Over the course of the next decade, in addition to acquiring her new moniker, “Connie” wrote and recorded songs that captured the hearts of those close to her. Some were recorded by the artist in her Greenwich Village apartment, others by friends enamored of the music. These included animator Gene Deitch and his colleague Bill Bernal, who helped coordinate an appearance on the CBS Morning Show with Walter Cronkite. Despite these efforts, Converse’s music never reached an audience wider than, as she once put it, “dozens of people all over the world.”
In 1961 Converse tired of New York and left for Ann Arbor. She became increasingly despondent in the 1970s, a period she described in letters as her “Blue Funk.” Finally, in 1974, Connie wrote a series of goodbye notes to friends and family, packed up her Volkswagen and disappeared. She has not been seen or heard from since.
In 2004, David Garland, host of WNYC’s Spinning on Air, had gotten hold of One by One, a song by (then-unknown) Connie Converse, and played it one evening during his broadcast. Captivated by what they heard, Lau derette founders Dzula and Herman began an extensive research and restoration process to revive the 50-year-old recordings Converse left in the possession of her brother Philip, as well as those recorded by Deitch at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
After a high-definition digital transfer of the original tapes, Dzula and Herman conducted the restoration and re-mastering work at the newly expanded Elias Arts studios in downtown Manhattan, where Dzula serves as in-house engineer, composer and sound designer.
“The chief concern throughout the process was to maintain the integrity of the original recordings. We needed to strike the balance between cultural preservation and audio fidelity,” said Dzula, who, along with Herman, worked to maximize the musical clarity of the songs, while retaining the imperfection and “roughness” that gives each recording its unique character.
“Although the original tapes were in fantastic physical shape, the recordings needed a lot of work to be presented to the public,” Dzula continued. “Sonically speaking, the new studios at Elias Arts are just drop-dead-gorgeous. The quality of the rooms there allowed us to treat the audio with delicacy and confidence.”
Lau derette Recordings
Elizabeth “Connie” Converse