Carlisle would have been discovered in 1932 by the popular stride-pianist and singer Fats Waller, who was then for a radio station in Cincinnati did a series of radio performances. Waller convinced her mother to let her in his programs to occur and thus came to pass. She was a protege of Waller and would also have had a relationship with him. As a musician, she developed a style similar to that of Waller seemed: she playedBoogie-Woogie and stride and brought like Waller humor in her performances. In 1935 she was the singer of the big band, with which Waller in Apollo Theater in Harlem occurred. 
She went her own way, however, to pursue a solo career and toured in Europein 1937, where she in a Parisian club was noticed by the critic and producer Leonard Feather. Thanks to Feather she made in May 1938 in London her first recordings. In London she spent a time in the hospital, where she was looked up by Waller when he had to play in England. In late 1939, she made her most famous in America, recording a duet with Fats Waller: "I Can't Give You Anything But Love". The recording was released on Bluebird, a sublabel of Victor, and it would not be her last recordings for this label, because there were several sessions, including one with saxophonist Lester Young.
In the period 1940-1941 she took on with the band of John Kirby. At that time they also had a few hits, with songs written by her "Walking By the River" and "I See a Million People". The success of these and other Carlisle-songs brought her in contact with the producer, manager, Publisher and record producer (and according to some also an exploiter of ' black ' talent) Joe Davis, who had a first own label founded in 1942,Beacon Records. After the end of the ban on the inclusion of plates, in 1944, she went for Davis ' record labels, such as "I'm a Good, Good Woman", released on Joe Davis Records. They made numerous recordings for labels, later they also took on Davis for Savoy and Columbia (footage of Don Redman). In the 1940s and early 1950s, she had her own radio and television programs. Poor health forced her to move away from show business in 1952.
 according to critics has Carlisle her best recordings made in the period 1938-1940. Her songs have been recorded by, among others, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Dakota Staton, Della Reese,Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman , Benny Carterand Stan Kenton.
- 1938-1941, Classics, 2002
- 1941-1944, Classics, 2002
- 1944-1950, Classics, 2002
- Ohio. She died at the age of 37 according to Jazz.com in
- Una Mae Carlisle, Will Friedwald biography
- Including Will Friedwald