Dreams can start taking root really early in an artist’s life, but it takes talent and hard work to make them a reality. She may only be 14-years-old, but Queeva McDonagh possesses drive, vision and a dedication to her craft that far exceeds her years. Blessed with an evocative voice and a gift for penning insightful, heartfelt lyrics, Queeva’s distinctive gifts shine on her debut set.
Raised in a creative Irish clan with six children,Queeva was born in the United States, but her parents hail from Ireland. The young artist divides her time between the two countries, giving her a broader world view than many her age. She has a deep love of both cultures and an appreciation for the language and the music. Gaelic is often spoken in their home. “When I was younger that was the only language I knew,” she says with a smile. “All my family members in Ireland are big country music fans. I’ve been exposed to country my whole life, especially the Celtic sounds that inspired the original roots of Appalachian country.”
Even at an early age, she gravitated to country music’s greatest storytellers, artists able to illuminate the human experience in song. “When I was three-years-old, I was able to know complete lyrics to songs,” she says. “I knew many of Dolly Parton’s songs because that’s all I listened to. My favorite one was ‘Coat of Many Colors.’”
By the time she was seven, she was competing in talent competitions and stunning judges with her distinctive vocals. At a Los Angeles competition, she caught the attention of an executive who connected Caoimhe with Nashville-based singer/songwriter/producer Jamie O’Neal, known for such enduring country hits as “When I Think About Angels,” “There is No Arizona” and “Somebody’s Hero.” Under O’Neal’s tutelageQueeva found her voice as a songwriter and her new project is populated with songs that reflect the young singer’s positive spirit.
“Who You Really Are” carries an important message, especially for young people trying to find their way in an increasingly complicated world. “We wanted to write an upbeat song with an inspirational message, especially for girls my age who struggle with their identity and don’t know who they really are,”Queeva says. “They are sometimes following the wrong crowd and they’re trying to figure out who they should follow. They’re looking at all these famous people and thinking, ‘Oh, they are so beautiful and I have to be like them,’ but that’s not how it really is.”
“Young, Wild & Free” reflects her Irish roots. “I go to Ireland every year and I wanted to write a song about letting go and having no worries,” she says. “This song reminds me of Ireland because when I go there I go to Inishmore in the Aran Islands. It’s really small and there’s only one store. Everybody knows everybody there and there’s so much freedom. Your parents don’t have to really worry about you.”
“Close to You” boasts a gentle, lilting melody and a tender lyric about maintaining a strong connection to someone you care about whether it’s a beloved family member or a potential romance. “It doesn’t generally have to be a love song,” she explains. “The way I thought about it is like a family member or a close friend who you want to become closer to, but they keep pushing you away.”
Perhaps the most autobiographical track on the new project is “Dream Too Big.” “There’s so many songs about dreams, but we obviously wanted to write something different,”Queeva says of the empowering upbeat number. “You CAN’T dream too big. You can dream all you want. Even though you are facing challenges along the way, everything is possible. It inspires me too that I have to keep pushing. I can’t give up. I have to keep working in order to achieve my goals.”
The inspiring message of the song has become somewhat of a mantra for the determined young entertainer as she pushes forward toward her future. She’s landed coveted acting gigs on TV shows such as “Chicago Fire,” but music is her true passion. She’s performed at noted festivals and impressed songwriters many years her senior while performing at writer’s in the round events, and she’s developed a comfortable presence in the studio that makes it easy for her to unleash that confident, vibrant voice.
“I really want to try to inspire my audience, especially young people,”Queeva says. “That’s the main thing I want to do. Since I’m 14, I can relate to a lot of things they are going through. I feel pretty lucky to have the opportunity to reach out to people and I want my music to make a difference. I’ve always loved music. It’s a way of speaking with your heart.”