So many have traveled the road to Nashville.
Sitting in the back seat, just another teenage girl with another tantalizing dream watching the miles go by outside her window, praying that someone in Music City would give her the chance to help her make her music dreams come true.
The singer/songwriter in this case is Queeva McDonagh.
Donning a light blue crop top with ruffled sleeves, the Glenview resident — who goes professionally by the singular Queeva — found herself in Nashville in September seated at a conference table signing a a publishing deal contract with Songs of New Town.
“I just can’t read or understand contracts, so I’m hoping that’s what I signed,” the 17-year-old says with a hearty laugh during a recent phone chat just days after returning from yet another trip to Nashville, this time to film a music video at a local roller rink. “Those contracts just have too many words if you ask me.”
It’s in fact her words and her songs and her innate way of staying humble that as her star continues to rise that have allowed Queeva to begin her trek to become a country music star.
“Oh, she never came in here saying she wanted to be a star,” says Chicago area talent mentor Maggie Malone, who helped direct her career starting at the age of 6. “She came in here saying that she wanted to lead a normal life while developing her talents.”
It was that poise. Malone says, that floored her from the very beginning.
“She just had so much raw talent,” says Malone, who quickly helped Queeva land some acting gigs in shows such as “Chicago Fire.” “She had natural abilities that she was just born with. She always had this intensity to her and a focus on what she wanted to accomplish.”
While acting and modeling seemed to be Queeva’s earliest creative pursuits, it was music that seemed to speak to her soul. One of six children in a classic Irish clan, Queeva has music running through her veins, as her grandmother was an accomplished singer in Ireland. The Glenbard South High School student has long spent her summers there, with her name itself having roots meaning “gentle,” “beautiful” and “precious.”
“I think my dad was the one that first saw that I had a passion for music,” recalls Queeva, who spoke Gaelic as a child while being raised on a hearty dose of Randy Travis and Johnny Cash. “When I was 3 years old, I would sing full Dolly Parton songs. My parents thought it was pretty unique that I could remember all of the words and stay on key at the same time.”
At the age of 9, Queeva started listening to country songstress Taylor Swift and took her first trip to Nashville under the watchful eye of her mentor, country star Jamie O’Neal.
In middle school, Queeva began juggling time in school and time in Nashville.
“I don’t think a lot of my teachers