Carmel Quinn

Carmel Quinn still remains one of the great singers and storytellers in entertainment today. She was a headliner during the first Milwaukee Irish Fest in 1981 and over twenty years later she remains a crowd-pleaser as her fans will testify to from her shows at Irish Fest 2002.
Carmel Quinn was born in Dublin, Ireland. Her father was an excellent violinist and the family was quite musical. Upon completion of her early schooling, she entered college with the intention of becoming a teacher, but soon thereafter took a chance on an audition for singers at the Dublin Theater Royal. She won a week’s engagement, and went from there to the Crystal Ballroom for two months. Another audition won her a permanent spot with Johnny Devlin’s Orchestra, and other orchestra and theatrical engagements followed. At length she went to London and made her radio debut over the BBC.
Carmel married Bill Fuller who at the time owned ballrooms in Dublin and in London. Because of the large amount of Irish immigrating to the States he decided to open ballrooms in New York, Boston, Chicago & San Francisco where the Irish were amassing again. His ventures were all successful. When Carmel came to America, in March of 1954, it was to perform in these ballrooms.
A few months later she appeared on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts program and won the contest. Her husband was back in Ireland and didn’t even know that she was on the program until he heard that she won it. The prize was to appear on the show for the next three days. She did; and she stayed on as a “regular” for six additional years. American audiences loved her songs and her humorous tales about life.
Carmel was one of many popular stars today that got their start from Irish-American Arthur Godfrey’s show. These include Pat Boone, the McGuire Sisters, Tony Bennett and Connie Francis. Two big stars missed by the show’s screening staff were Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, both flunked the show’s auditions.
After leaving the Godfrey show, Carmel became a popular guest on many of America’s favorite talk shows. These include the Today Show, the Tonight Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, the Dick Cavett Show, the Merv Griffin Show, Nashville Now, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, the Ralph Emery Show, and Candid Camera too! Once again it is her unique charm and talent that endears her to the audience.
Carmel appeared in numerous stage musicals such as Finian’s Rainbow, The Sound of Music, Wildcat, The Boy Friend and many others. She also performed for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Her annual concert at Carnegie Hall has sold out for over 25 years. Her numerous recordings have received accolades from every sector of the populace. Her special love for children engendered “Patrick Muldoon and His Magic Balloon” - a recording which earned her a prestigious Grammy Award nomination, and a recent offer to do her own children’s show. She is also only the second woman to have received the John F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in her field of activity.
Whether singing or telling her wonderful outrageous anecdotes or meeting the great demand for speaking engagements, she immediately has the audience in the palm of her hand - making them sing, laugh or reminisce. As one critic from the Canada Evening Times Globe remarked “ She is a graduate of the Dublin school of stage artistry…their finest and best known living product…mixing humor with the pathos of story-telling and superb showmanship…no one quite beguiles an audience so quickly or more effortlessly.”
Carmel has a great affection for America. Nearly all of her concerts contain some patriotic songs. She does a lot of charity work in New York for Catholic schools and for literary programs. She also spends time with her four children and three grandchildren. After 50 years in show business Carmel is still going strong.