B Y Peter Viele PHOTO BY Allison Potter
MARNINA QUEEN’S VINTAGE LYLE HUMMINGBIRD GUITAR SOOTHES THE
SOUL AND SERVES AS A REMINDER OF SIMPLER TIMES.
“I can have the busiest day with a lot of pressure, running a company of this size, but
when I sit down to play, it’s calming. It makes me remember the simple things and gives me
a clear mind,” Marnina Queen says about her vintage Lyle guitar. Found in an antique store
in Oregon, Queen’s parents gifted her a beautiful Lyle Hummingbird on Christmas morning
when she was in the fifth grade. It made a profound and lasting impact.
The guitar provided her a creative outlet and allowed her to see the comfort that music gave
people, firsthand, and even helped her to win her sixth-grade talent competition. When she
later settled in Sylva, North Carolina, as a young teen, Queen continued to play, eventually
playing with bands, exclusively for benefits.
Handcrafted in Japan with mother of pearl fret inlays and etched pic guard, this Lyle
Hummingbird, built sometime in the early to
mid-century, will forever hold a special place
in her heart. “It has such a unique sound and
every guitar has its own tone. This one has that
medium-perfect tone — it’s wonderful.”
Now kept in a specialty case with a battery-powered
dehumidifier, the Lyle has stayed with
her since childhood, with the exception of her
deployments overseas. It is reserved for special
occasions and holidays. “Every time I see it, it makes me smile. I’ve got a lot of modern guitars
but the Lyle still means the most. I’m reminded every time I play it, the love I have for my
parents and the love they have for me. And I’ve been able to give that to others. Music takes us
all back to a time or a moment. That’s one of the things I love about playing. You can ground
people and bring them back to a good space.”
When she’s not playing the guitar, Queen
is the CEO of the Alcoholic Beverage Control
(ABC) Board for New Hanover County. In
CEO of the ABC
its 83rd year, the $48-million-dollar county
alcohol beverage sales enterprise includes the
county’s eight ABC retail stores and three
liquor by the drink outlets (LBD), and employs 80 people locally.
Bars and restaurants buy their liquor from the LBDs. They obtain their permit from the
North Carolina ABC Commission.
For the year ending June 30, 2018, a total of $5.3 million in net profits was distributed to
the county, city of Wilmington, three beach towns and law enforcement agencies.
Prior to working with the ABC, Queen served as a medic in the U.S. Air Force for 12 years
— a tenure that instilled the values of teamwork and camaraderie, which has carried over to
her management approach as CEO. During Hurricane Florence of September 2018, Queen
opened the doors of the recently renovated ABC offices to her entire team for needed shelter
or water. Some 30 employees ended up taking her up on the offer.
Marnina Queen at the Bellamy Mansion with her vintage Lyle Hummingbird guitar.