2015 Ohio Has Talent winner Samantha Duquette will return to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center stage to compete for the Ohio Has Talent "Champion of Champions" title on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. (Photo submitted)
2015 Ohio Has Talent winner Samantha Duquette will return to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center stage to compete for the Ohio Has Talent "Champion of Champions" title on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – 2015 Ohio Has Talent winner Samantha Duquette will return to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center stage to compete for the Ohio Has Talent "Champion of Champions" title. Ohio Has Talent is in its 13th year; this year's show will be held Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

Duquette, a Van Wert native, now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is making her dream of becoming a professional artist come true. Duquette moved to Nashville at 15-years old, shortly after another Ohio Has Talent performance in 2016.

"Singing has always been my forte but now I'm getting more into songwriting," said Duquette who noted that songwriting has been her main concentration in Nashville. "I'm planning on releasing an album soon and I'm recording with a studio in Nashville. I'm super excited about that."

Duquette had entered Ohio Has Talent several years in a row as a teenager in order to gain experience as a performer.

"It took a couple of years to become advanced in my singing. I was super young when I first got into it," said Duquette. "I love performing, especially at the NPAC because it's such a huge place. I always thought Ohio Has Talent would be a good opportunity to show people what I could do in front of so many people."

Each year, those with the Community Health Professionals-ran competition record each artists' performance and place them on YouTube. Having her performance online allowed for Duquette to gain exposure.

"At the time, I was playing at a lot of places already outside of Van Wert," said Duquette. "I played in Lima, Celina, Wapak, and a lot of other places. But Ohio Has Talent got me a lot of exposure around Van Wert."

Duquette moved to Nashville to explore her music options. She said that by doing so, a world of opportunities has opened for her.

"Without moving to Nashville, I wouldn't be doing half of the crazy things that I've been doing," said Duquette. "I have regular performance dates in downtown Nashville on a regular basis. It's my job now. Moving to Nashville gave me a lot more inspiration to what I'm doing, just because there is so much competition down here."

"That's kind of what drives you to be a better musician – that there's a lot of people down here pursuing their music and songwriting," she continued. "I probably wouldn't even be getting into writing my own songs and playing solo without moving here. I'm super thankful for this town."

Prior to moving, Duquette attended Van Wert City Schools. She's excited to come back to her hometown and show people how her talents have progressed. She plans to perform some of her original music during the "Champion of Champions" show, as well as some cover songs.

"I'm nervous, but I'm definitely excited," said Duquette of the OHT show. "Nerves is kind of a waste of time; that's what I tell most people – that being nervous to show people what you have is such a waste of time because once it's over and done with, you will most likely be really happy that you did it."

"I've had to force myself to do a lot of things that I felt like I didn't want to do, just because I was nervous, but then after I did it, I felt so accomplished and people knew what I was passionate about," she continued. "If somebody is passionate about auditioning for Ohio Has Talent, I definitely think that they should take their shot and do it."

While Duquette is working on writing several songs for an upcoming album, her single, "Crazy" is available now on streaming services.

Ohio Has Talent takes place on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at the NPAC. Proceeds from Ohio Has Talent will benefit the Community Health Professionals (CHP) patient care fund for in-home hospice. As a nonprofit hospice, CHP works with patients and families regardless of their financial situation. The patient care fund helps cover gaps for uncovered patient care expenses and enables CHP to continue providing compassionate care throughout Northwest and West Central Ohio.