Up-and-coming country artist Queeva from Chicago was in Nashville for CMA Fest where she had multiple appearances during the country festival. Although only 15 years old, this teenager sings of young love and being “Young, Wild, and Free.”
Queeva has been working with Jamie O’Neal and husband, Rodney Good since she was 9 years old helping her hone her songwriting skill and producing her albums.
While at CMA Fest, Queeva sat down with us to chat music, inspirations, and dogs.
What do you have going on at CMA Fest this year?
Well, I’ve just been doing a bunch of performances at Margaritaville, today I’m performing at the Nashville Underground, and on Sunday.
Great. We actually talked to you last year, and just wanted to catch up with you, see what’s going on since last year. You have a new single out, it came out earlier this year, “How Do You Know.”
Tell us about that. And you also have a music video with that.
Well, “How Do You Know” is just a song that talks about young love and how a lot of adults think that younger people can’t be in love. So I kind of thought it was a cool message, and I wanted to share that. I wrote that with Jamie O’Neal and her sister, actually. Then we did a music video for that which was just based all around dogs, and it was so much fun to film. We did it at a dog shelter, and the whole video was just dedicated to dogs, basically.
Now how did you end up working with Jaime?
Well, it was through this acting competition that I entered in when I was about 7 years old, and I met her manager through that. Then I also started singing at the same time and then, when I was 9, he introduced me to Jaime so that we could start writing and so that she could teach me how to write. Then she produced my first album when I was 9. She taught me how to write songs. We’ve just been working together ever since.
Your album at 9, how does that compare to your album now? Now that you’re 15.
There’s a big difference. I mean, the songs, my voice has changed a lot I think, for the better of course. The songs I think are a lot more mature than from when I was 9 years old, and it’s just a lot different, I think.
Now, you’re doing something with Jaime while you’re here that has to do with the dogs, the Pedigree Foundation.
Yeah, at the Listening Room.
Tell us about that.
Well, I kind of wanted to put together a show that was just for donating money to the Pedigree Foundation because they stand for dogs and everything. So we organized that at the Listening Room.
All right. You also have an album coming out this summer?
Yes. July 14th. And one of my songs from my album is actually available for pre-sale on Spotify, so people can check that out. It’s called “Young, Wild, and Free” and then the whole album’s out July 14th.
And how many songs are going to be on that album?
Give us a little teaser about the album.
Well, it has a lot of my personality, I feel like, and I feel like through the songs on the album you get to know more about me. Like one of the songs I wrote just about Ireland, and I think people can really get the feeling of how I feel when I’m back there because I go back to Ireland every summer.
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Because your parents are from Ireland, right?
Can you tell us about the recording process in the studio with Jamie?
Yeah. Well, I record with Jaime and her husband, so her husband works at the soundboard, and then I just record in her studio. She always gives me pointers on what I should do, so she’s just like a huge part of that process.
So is it just you? Is it just you and your guitar? And your voice? Or do you have other musicians participate?
Yeah, musicians come in and build on the track. Once we get the track together, then I’ll sing to it, and we kind of figure out what we want on the track or maybe like, “That’s too loud,” so we just keep working on the track until we get it right.
So you used Nashville musicians?
Yes. Since I’m in Chicago, I come to Nashville like once a month.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got involved in music.
Well, my dad grew up being such a huge country music fan, and he would always play Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, you know, Gretchen Wilson, around the clock, and so I feel like just by listening to those great country inspirations growing up, I just fell in love with country music. Then I wanted to write music just like Taylor Swift and inspire young girls, and since both my parents are from Ireland, most of the people back there are country music fans.
So Taylor Swift has been one of your major influences, along with several others. Tell us about what music are you listening to today, some of your current favorite music artists.
I listen to a lot of Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, and Carly Pearce as well. I really love their songs right now, especially Girl by Maren Morris, I love that song.
You’re a big animal lover?
That’s why you support the Pedigree Foundation. You have three dogs?
Yes. I have three dogs.
They’re all mini Labradoodles.
Aww. Mini ones?
How big are they?
There was a problem. So they were supposed to be all mini, we had one dog that… we wanted to get her a friend, and so we went back to where we got her from about two years later. There were two mini Labradoodles there, and so we were only supposed to get one, and we ended up getting them both. So now they grew like, pretty tall, and she’s only like this small, she’s not big, and they were supposed to be mini, but the other two are pretty big. My dad was like, “Oh, we should bring them back,” but we’re not going to bring them back because they’re our dogs. But they were supposed to be small, and now they’re pretty big except for one.
I’ve had that happen, too. But like you said, what are you going to do? Last time we talked to you, you had gotten a Gibson guitar?
Yes, I did.
Are you still playing that guitar?
I am. I got it, I think, two years ago for Christmas. And it was such a surprise because I remember playing Jaime’s husband, Rodney, he had a Gibson guitar and when I played it, because my guitar, I don’t know there was something wrong with my other guitar. And so I borrowed his, and I just loved the sound quality, and then I got surprised with it on Christmas. It was just crazy.
Is it the only guitar you play, or do you have other ones?
I have two other guitars, but I don’t really play them anymore because the Gibson is my favorite.
So back on music, when you’re writing, what is your writing process? How do you approach it? What inspires you, and do the lyrics come first, or do you think of a chord progression?
Yeah, honestly, well first I like to be inspired by what I see going on at school or things that I feel are important messages that people need to hear. Then I kind of just start with melodies first, and then I move on to the lyrics because I feel like you kind of need a melody to figure out how you want the words to go, but you always need like a big topic that you want to write about first.
So it’s usually things at school that would happen?
Yeah. Or just things that I’m feeling.
Yeah. Just honestly, if I think that something is important and I want people to hear it, like especially with one of my second singles called “Who You Really Are,” I thought that one was really important because I just wanted younger girls to be inspired and just know that they should stay true to who they are because that’s something that I’ve learned. So just important messages.
That’s a good message. I mean, I think that there’s so much going on now with social media and —
Are you active on social media?
I am yes.
That’s good because I think that’s important that people have someone that they can look up to.
What is Nickelodeon’s Fresh Faces?
Well, that’s a station on TV, and it’s called Fresh Faces, and they just play music videos for the whole day. So they put both of my music videos on there, including “How Do You Know,” so it’s pretty cool.
Well, you’ve got your new album coming out this month. Are you heading out on tour or anything?
I’m starting a High School Nation tour in September. That’s going to be a lot of fun.
That’s great. They get big audiences. You’ll make lots of new fans!
Yeah, especially since that’s my target audience.
Where can everyone find you on social media?
Well, all of my social media is @queevamusic, so if you guys want updates, you can check me out on that.
All right, thank you so much for meeting with us! Enjoy CMA Fest.
Thank you so much.