You don’t expect a female empowerment hip hop artist to dress like a 1950s movie star housewife, but Qveen Herby is full of surprises.
She and her best friend even have their own make-up shop with a line of lipstick riddled with playful text and in the colors “Thick Skin”, “Dirty 30” and “Piggy Bank”.
Amy Renee Noonan was originally from a small town in Nebraska and was better known by her stage name “Qveen Herby” (or simply “Qveen”). She was part of a pop duo called Karmin.
The group was signed to Epic Records and had several hit singles that reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as international success in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
But Noonan didn’t really feel like the real me until she became the independent artist Qveen Herby.
Qveen Herby in a mod outfit with black and white stripes
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Noonan’s parents found that she was musically gifted by the age of four when she started playing the piano by ear without taking lessons or reading sheet music.
She recalls watching female R&B group SWV at the Ricki Lake Show and decided to devote her life to musical activities. When she was growing up, her favorite SWV album was “Release Some Tension”. However, Noonan came from a conservative Christian family in Seward, Nebraska, and initially pursued a more traditional music career as a pop artist.
It wasn’t until Noonan faced some major health problems at the age of 30 that she began to think deeply about her life and purpose. Noonan discovered a more authentic version of herself as an independent artist, and Qveen Herby was born, giving her the creative freedom she craved.
It just so happens that our artist stories aren’t that different. Although I was a software CEO and X-Economist, not a former pop star, after severe burnout and a few other health problems, I started rapping as “Razzlekhan” and doing surrealist art. Noonan added the “V” in “Qveen Herby” as a tribute to the time she spent studying in St. Petersburg, and learned from 23 and me that she is over 50% Russian. Similarly, I created “Razzlekhan” as an homage to my Turkish heritage and as a deep appreciation for the North African Bedouin culture.
Qveen Herby wears a bright red bow
Noonan has long been in love with 1950s looks. Check out some of her videos and you will find that she has a passion for mod dresses and colorful lipstick. It turns out that every lipstick she wears in her music videos is from her own line, Qveen.
Much like Tyler the creator Golf includes Wang in his music videos and blends his fashion shows with live music performances, Noonan uses her art as an opportunity to showcase her business. She models her own product, creates fun makeup tutorial videos and is free to do so without paying royalties as she is an independent artist who owns all of her work.
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Qveen Herby with a bow in her hair
Many of Qveen Herby’s YouTube music videos have millions of views, but she is particularly proud of the 8 million views she received for her song “Sugar Daddy,” which is also currently trending on Tik Tok. This video was self-produced and shot in quarantine.
Noonan hopes this will remind independent artists and other creators that you don’t need a huge budget or label to win.
She credits her success on social media to her authentic selves, the pursuit of helping others become their best selves, and consistently posting. Noonan recommends that all artists post on Tik Tok at least twice a day and add lyrics to all songs sung.
However, she strongly recommends a set and forget strategy where you don’t spend too much time worrying about your stats or social media comments after posting content. Instead of obsessing over vanity, comparing yourself to others, or loathing yourself while browsing social networks, Noonan recommends saving that energy on more positive creative endeavors.
Take your time to think and become a better friend to yourself
As we both discussed growing up in small towns and how that affects creativity and mindset, we pondered the parallels to our childhood and the experiences we had in the midst of Covid-19.
While the pandemic is nobody’s favorite situation, we’ve both seen the positives and tried to make the most of 2020.
“It is incredible that the pandemic has forced so many people to be alone with fewer stimuli. The fact that most of us are scared of just being – it’s like scared of your size, ”says Noonan.
Noonan hopes that people, especially artists, will take this time to realize, “Wow, I’m really stupid, and all the while I’ve got distracted and learned to think that I’m not stupid.” She adds: “We regularly compare ourselves to other people, but like everyone has problems right now, you know you are not alone.”
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Noonan is an endless fountain of uplifting colorful content, even in the pandemic. I wondered how she manages to stay creatively motivated and inspired all the time, and she told me her secret.
Every morning she and her husband do what they call “twenties”. “First,” you sweat for twenty minutes, write twenty minutes, and then the last twenty is spent learning, “says Noonan.”
For the “learning” part, Noonan is an avid reader. The Qveen Herby website has a ‘Tea Room’ that lists favorite books that have helped her become the best version of herself. The books include everything from Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill to books on creativity and spirituality.
“And if you don’t like reading, you can learn everything on YouTube!” She says.