Dan Quinn’s First Documented Performance

Yesterday we posted the cover art and sound samples for our upcoming release of songs by recording pioneer, Dan W. Quinn, called Anthology: The King of Comic Singers, 1894-1917. If you haven’t had a chance to look and listen, you can do so here.

We’ve done a lot of original research for this project and have a number of new revelations to share about Quinn: the place and year of his birth, the identity of his parents and siblings, and his trade, among other things. It’s exciting to make a positive contribution to the biographical record of one of the first *stars* of the recording industry.

Here’s one of the most exciting discoveries. We poured through newspaper databases looking for the earliest mentions of Quinn, who was living in New York City at the time he debuted before the phonograph—in January 1892, according to Quinn himself. So what was he doing before that time?

Well, for almost the entire decade of the 1880s, it appears that Quinn was a laborer by day and a singer by night, aspiring to become a professional entertainer for some years before he finally made his breakthrough. It would seem that the responsibilities of marriage and child-rearing probably kept him in his station longer than he would have liked. Meanwhile, he got the odd evening engagement singing before men’s social clubs, lodges, and the like.

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