The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Gwendolyn Quinn

Public relations expert Gwendolyn Quinn was born on November 12, 1960 in Augusta, Georgia to Queen Esther Bradshaw and Lonnie Edward Quinn. Quinn graduated from Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland in 1978, and received her cosmetology license from Robert Fiance Beauty School in New York.

After graduating from high school, Quinn served as the personal assistant to recording artist and performer, Gloria Gaynor. Quinn entered the music industry by joining the television and radio staff at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. She was then recruited as a personal assistant to Beverly Johnson, after which she joined ABC-Capital Cities and worked for several years in positions related to television development and production. In 1991, Quinn joined Mercury/PolyGram as its publicity coordinator. The company worked with artists such as Vanessa Williams, Oleta Adams, and Third World. She then joined Flavor Unit Entertainment as the national director of publicity, creating campaigns for artists such as Naughty By Nature, Zhané, and Queen Latifah. Quinn was named national director of publicity and media relations at Capitol Records in 1995. Two years later, she worked as senior director of publicity for Island Records, and worked with the Isley Brothers, and Dru Hill, among others. The following year, Quinn joined Arista Records as senior director of publicity, and organized campaigns for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Deborah Cox, and Monica. When Arista Records and Bad Boy Entertainment launched joint ventures, Quinn was responsible for the artists’ media campaigns. These artists included P. Diddy, Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, and Mase. Quinn handled media and press activities for the company. Quinn then returned to Capitol Records as vice president of publicity. In 2002, Quinn founded her own firm, GQ Media & Public Relations (now Gwendolyn Quinn Public Relations).

Quinn was the founder and creator of the African American Public Relations Collective (AAPRC) and the Global Communicator. She also was a contributor to Souls Revealed and featured in Handle Your Entertainment Business. She was the curator of The Living Legends Foundation: The State of Black Music and Beyond, an essay series published by the Huffington Post.

Gwendolyn Quinn was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 29, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.078

Sex

Female

Interview Date

03/29/2017

Last Name

Quinn

Maker Category
Schools

Draper Elementary School

Charles Hart Middle School

Frank W. Ballou Senior High School

Potomac High School

Robert Fiance Hair Design Institute

First Name

Gwendolyn

Birth City, State, Country

Augusta

HM ID

QUI01

Favorite Season

Spring, Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cape Town, South Africa

Favorite Quote

No Weapon Formed Against You Shall Prosper.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/12/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta, fish

Short Description

Public relations expert Gwendolyn Quinn (1960 - ) was vice president of publicity at Capitol Records and was founder and CEO of GQ Media & Public Relations.

Employment

Gloria Gaynor

Vidal Sassoon

American Society of Composers, Authors and, Publishers

Beverly Johnson

Capital Cities/ABC Inc.

Mercury/PolyGram Records

Flavor Unit Entertainment

Capitol Records, Inc.

Island Records

Arista Records

GQ Media and Public Relations Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:4938,66:12626,184:13179,193:17445,313:29826,455:30894,472:32496,509:34276,544:56868,729:57956,909:59112,931:59860,945:60472,956:60744,961:62444,998:63124,1009:63464,1015:75744,1123:78480,1171:78956,1179:97872,1480:98484,1492:100796,1546:101068,1551:111838,1700:119046,1859:119522,1868:119930,1876:120202,1881:130208,2019:131449,2042:132325,2056:132836,2071:133712,2089:134223,2098:137974,2108:139066,2134:146476,2324:159394,2513:160132,2523:169054,2595:173022,2692:174494,2732:181190,2852$0,0:9970,154:11104,173:13777,227:14830,239:23620,278:24016,283:24511,289:26795,311:28810,356:29720,372:38584,472:39022,479:39898,493:40555,503:43402,558:43767,564:47344,664:50890,673:53857,719:60343,838:61516,856:62137,868:62620,876:62896,881:71380,949:72505,971:75949,1018:78139,1053:78577,1060:78942,1066:87212,1132:87674,1140:90622,1196:105441,1477:113900,1582:123449,1724:126022,1768:133850,1842:135446,1863:141260,1927:148530,2032:149055,2042:150630,2067:153480,2196:154455,2211:155655,2309:175770,2533:178772,2612:183815,2674:185117,2692:191670,2741:193840,2818:197550,2912:197830,2918:202660,3048:219895,3221:220336,3226:220714,3233:223423,3297:223738,3306:225313,3339:239829,3492:244231,3596:246716,3655:263570,3974
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gwendolyn Quinn's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Quinn lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about her mother's training as a nurse

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about her father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Quinn lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers moving to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers her civics class at Charles Hart Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers the music and film of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls learning to braid hair

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her transition to Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls becoming a professional hairstylist in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers meeting Gloria Gaynor

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls training at the Sassoon Salon in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls leaving her position at the Sassoon Salon

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes her position at the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls working as Beverly Johnson's assistant

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls joining Capital Cities/ABC Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her decision to leave Capital Cities/ABC Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls joining PolyGram Records

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her position at Flavor Unit Entertainment

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls becoming a national publicity director at Capitol Records

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about working with hip hop artists

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her interview at Capitol Records

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes her responsibilities at Capitol Records

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her time at Island Records

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes how she ended her contract at Island Records

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers joining Arista Records

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes the qualities of a successful publicist

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her biggest celebrity client

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers returning to Capitol Records as a vice president

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about founding GQ Media Public Relations Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about her clients at GQ Media and Public Relations Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about the filming of 'VH1 Divas'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls the great vocalists among her clientele

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Quinn recalls great singers that she worked with

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about the African American Public Relations Collective

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about her birthday celebration in 2012

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Quinn remembers hearing about the death of Whitney Houston

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about the importance of black publicists

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Quinn talks about her work with white clients

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gwendolyn Quinn reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Quinn reflects upon the changes in the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Quinn reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Quinn reflects upon her family

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Quinn describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Gwendolyn Quinn recalls her time at Island Records
Gwendolyn Quinn talks about the African American Public Relations Collective
Transcript
Now you went to Island Records next, right?$$Yeah, I was back and under the PolyGram system [PolyGram Records], but it was under Hiram Hicks and Chris Blackwell. Chris Blackwell is a rock and roll hall of famer [Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio], and Hiram Hicks is very well established in the black music industry. He had The Isley Brothers there, Dru Hill, War soundtracks. I didn't stay there long because I had gotten another, I didn't like that job as much, and I knew I had to get out of there, so that's when I went to go work for Arista [Arista Records].$$What, what, what made it pressurized? What made it, you know, made you feel like you had to get out?$$I didn't like some of the people I was working with at the time. I just decided--$$Did they make unreasonable demands or were they just have (unclear).$$You know I'm probably gone get in trouble for saying this, but sometimes working with all your people is not always the best option, you know. I've been in some situations where it's been an entire black staff and it was cool, but then sometimes it's not cool at all. I just knew that with my temperament, it wasn't gone work. So I started looking to get out. I wasn't pushed out, I moved. And my roommate at the time, the one that, the one that actually had been responsible for all my key executive positions, Jackie Rhinehart, she, she, we were on the phone one day and she was complaining, she was at Arista, and she was like, she was ready to go into, she was in publicity, but she was ready to move into marketing, and she had a big job offer as a senior VP, and she was ready to go, and, you know, she couldn't get out of her contract, and, 'cause her boss hadn't found a person that she wanted to hire. So we, she was on the phone complaining about that, and I was on the phone complaining like, "Oh, I'm not gonna be able to work here. I've got to get out of here." And then she said, "Do you wanna, I mean do you wanna interview for my position?" And that was the house of Clive Davis. That was, you know, that was like the ultimate place to work, you know, Whitney Houston and everybody else, Aretha Franklin, and I was like, "Do I wanna--yeah." So I said, she said, "I'm a set up an interview for you, you ready to come in for an interview?" I said, "Girl, I could come in tomorrow." So she set up an interview for me, 'cause her boss who at the time, Michele Cucci, well her name was Michele Mena but her name was Michele Cucci. She had saw all these different people and she just was not, you know, ready to hire anyone. So I went over that day. I had on my big fur coat (laughter), I had my big hair, my big fur coat; and she told me, we laughed about it later, she said, "When you walked through that door with that big fur coat and that big hair, I knew you was perfect for this job."$Now you launched, in 2004, you launched the AAPRC monthly, right?$$It--well it's the African American Public Relations Collective. It was a group that I started of African American publicists across the board, so it was film, television, music, government, medical field, just from every industry and it was a group and we had a list served and we shared information and ideas. It was a wonderful. So that, I started that.$$Now was this the first time African American public relations and marketing people like them organized into?$$I won't say it's the first time, 'cause you had the black public relations society [National Black Public Relations Society]. They are organizations. They are 510--501 [501(c)(3)] organizations. I didn't get mine registered as an organization. It was more like a group, a collector of individuals that we, our main goal was to support each other in our different areas.$$And now the magazine is entitled the Global Communicator?$$Right. Which we haven't published anything in several years. Yeah, but it was a really great magazine. I mean we were fortunate to, we covered a lot of great people, like I, we did, I'll never forget that day we called Ed Bradley and he answered his phone. And wait a minute, and he was just so kind and generous and I, I think I had wrote him a note. I don't even know if he got the note, but I talked to him and he was like, "Yeah, I'll do the interview." And I think he knew, like these are young journalists and I mean Ed Bradley was a big deal. I mean he didn't do that kind of stuff, you know. He certainly, and it was a digital magazine and we, I couldn't tell you what the circulation was. We didn't know that, but he, he knew it was a group of publicists and let me tell you the most profound aspect of that story for me is he did the interview and was gracious, very, very gracious with his time. But when he passed away, we got a call from someone who is a very close family member, and he, they personally invited me to the funeral 'cause they said that, she told me, Maria Brown [sic. HistoryMaker Marie Brown] told me, she said, "You know what Gwendolyn [HistoryMaker Gwendolyn Quinn], he was, he was actually sick, started getting sick at the time that he did the interview, but no one knew he was sick." So she said he was not even doing interviews with anyone really. And, she said, "I don't know what you said to him on the phone, but, you know, he didn't really do any interviews and, and, and," she said, "We, his family read the story and we could tell that he really, really wanted to do the interview, and that we wanted to invite you (background noise), we wanted to invite you to the service." And I was just blown away from that. That was just, I was, I got a chance to interview [HistoryMaker] Gwen Ifill, another one, a top notch journalist. You know we interviewed all the top publicists too, you know, from [HistoryMaker] Ofield Dukes to, you know, [HistoryMaker] Terrie Williams, and all of the publicists in all industry, but the journalist I was most impressed. I mean we had [HistoryMaker] Soledad O'Brien, we had all these like big broadcast people, like, Gwen Ifill, you know. It was just amazing that people really respected what we were doing. It was just, I'm going to start it again one day, but I just need a budget.$$Okay, okay.$$We did, you know, we did Ava DuVernay, she was just like a budding publicist at the time. I said, called, I said, "Hey Ava." She said, "Hey Gwendolyn." She was a publicist and she was working in film. I said, "Ava you want to do a story?" She said, "I love that magazine,' and she did the story and, look at her now.$$Yeah, she's the--$$(Laughter) Just look at her now.$$--director and producer for 'Selma' (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Oh my god, 'Selma' and '13th'--$$And '13th,' right.$$--and she was a publicist just like the rest of us. So it was, it was great, we had some really amazing interviews.