Willette wins songwriter contest

Published 9:01 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Suffolk musician won a regional singer/songwriter contest this spring and has received many opportunities as a result.

Luke Willette won the 2017 Emerging Artist Contest Showcase with his two selections, “Cardboard Signs” and “Time Machine.” The contest promotes Tidewater Arts Outreach.

“I just happened to win,” the humble Willette said. “I was surprised, for sure. I haven’t been writing songs that long.”

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Willette is a native of Missouri and settled in Hampton Roads after a stint in the U.S. Navy. He lives in Suffolk with his wife, Amy, and two children.

He owns Luke Willette Plumbing but is perhaps better known for his performances at various venues around the city.

“I’ve been playing a little bit around here since I got out of the Navy in 1997,” Willette said. “What that means is I’m starting to get old.”

Willette described his style as various facets of country.

“The songs I write, some of them are just regular country,” he said. “Probably the majority are what you would call country Christian.”

The contest was open to amateurs within 100 miles of Norfolk. Each entrant submitted two original songs, and a preliminary judging process selected 10 semi-finalists.

The 10 semi-finalists performed their two submissions in front of judges and an audience on March 19 at Victorian Station in Hampton.

As the winner, Willette received the honor of performing at the 2017 Sea Level Festival on April 1 at the Attucks Theatre in Norfolk. He also received a guitar and studio time, Willette said, and he will get to open at next year’s event.