SPC alumnus Trent Willmon is the 2024 SPC Scholarship Gala featured entertainer

LEVELLAND – As a student at South Plains College, Trent Willmon made a life-changing switch from studying animal science to pursing an education in music. A few decades later, Willmon will return to Levelland, not only as an SPC alumnus, but as the featured entertainer at the College’s 26th Annual Scholarship Gala.

The Gala is set for 6 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Mallet Event Center in Levelland and will feature a musical performance by Willmon along with an SPC faculty band.

Willmon, who started playing guitar when he was 16, attended SPC starting in 1991. After joining his first band and making friends with other musicians at the College, Willmon decided pursuing music was a priority.

“I started playing in the ensembles at school, and I just realized that I need to do this,” he said. “I thought I would always go back and get my ag degree, but music took over my life.”

Willmon, who now resides in Nashville, said his classes and experiences at SPC took his musical skill set to the next level.

“When I took the music theory classes, they taught us the Nashville Number System,” he said. “Fast forward years later when I actually got to Nashville, I had such a leg up on other people around me because I knew the Nashville Number System and had a working knowledge of music theory.”

While at SPC, Willmon got a music gig at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, where he met a lot of talented musicians. He later got connected with bluegrass legend, Karl Shiflett, and played upright bass for him in his band.

Trent Willmon

Around 1996 when a friend from SPC told him about a gig in Nashville, Willmon made the move to Tennessee, where he performed as a side musician for other artists and worked on horse farms. A few years later, he signed his first publishing deal with Seagayle Music and later started a band called “Cow Camp.”

Willmon signed a record deal with Sony in 2004 and released his debut self-titled album in 2005. Since then, he has written songs cut by top recording artists including Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Cody Johnson, Little Big Town, Blake Shelton and many more. Willmon continues to write and perform but spends more time producing albums for Cody Johnson, Hayden Haddock and several other artists. He was awarded “Single Of The Year” at the 2022 CMA Awards as a producer for Cody Johnson’s “Til You Can’t,” which won “Best Country Song” at the 2023 Grammy Awards.

At this year’s Scholarship Gala, Willmon said he hopes to perform some songs from his past record deal with Sony and some songs recorded by other artists.

“It was such a great time in my life,” he said regarding his experience at SPC. “I learned a lot about the music business that gave me a head start. I’m really looking forward to going back to Levelland.”

Sponsorships and tickets for the Scholarship Gala are still available by calling 806-716-2020 or at www.southplainscollege.edu/gala. All Gala proceeds support scholarships at SPC. For information about the Scholarship Gala or other ways to support SPC students, contact Samantha Goldie at 806-716-2020 or sgoldie@southplainscollege.edu.