In the 608: How ‘Karaoke Matt’ is giving back

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MADISON, Wis. – There’s a man right here in the 608 working to make a difference day after day.

You may have seen his videos floating around on social media. You’ll find Matt Willey working as a street operator for the City of Madison, where’s he’s been for the last five years, but that’s just his day job.

“I joke with my buddies every day that I’m a local celebrity, and they hate it because they have to deal with it every day as I sing to them,” Willey laughed.

Matt started singing when he was around 10-years-old. The Whitewater native did his first competition for the Walworth County Fair that led him to compete on American Idol and The Voice, but it was a singing competition on Q106 in Madison when he first got the nickname “Karaoke Matt.”

“I’ve always wanted to entertain, I want to sing,” Matt explained. “That’s my passion is to sing. But this is second best.”

It’s pushed him into making more of a positive difference in the community, and that really began while he was helping a friend with a roofing job.

“As a joke I told him to take a picture of me holding a nail gun, and when he showed me the picture, and I’m like that’s a calendar pose right there,” Matt added.

So from there, every job that Matt went to help out with, he did a new pose, all the way up to twelve.

“You know I don’t have the abs or anything like that, but I can make you smile and I can make you laugh, and that’s where the calendar came in,” said Matt.

With the help of family and friends, they made a batch of 50 calendars, which were snatched up right away. Matt then turned to small businesses showing his support through the pandemic.

“These small businesses that are going out of business because of COVID is what really wanted me to promote small businesses and help charities in the local community,” Matt explained.

Matt says he couldn’t believe the response in them wanting to buy ad space in his calendar.

“I was able to take that money and donate it to the Children’s Hospital and Project Home, some local Go Fund Me’s or simply paying it forward,” Matt added.

Through word of mouth and social media, people from all across the Madison area began donating to the Karaoke Matt fund, with Q106 working with him as well.

“During this pandemic, they had no concert tickets to give away,” Matt explained. “So they needed something to give away to the listeners to keep them reeled in, and what better than the Karaoke Matt calendars.

Now you can find all his merchandise online, with all of the money donated going straight back into the community. Matt’s been able to help so many people in need, recently delivering about 80 Easter baskets to families across the 608.

“It’s someone’s business, it’s someone’s life,” Matt said. “That’s what people have to think about. It’s not a competition. It’s not a battle.”

He’s happy to finally have the platform to make a positive difference.

“We come together and we help each other out because if I was in need, I’d want somebody to do that for me, too,” Matt concluded.

Matt is working on a new project now, called “Lawn Care for Vets.” They’re looking for vets who aren’t able to afford doing their own yard or are maybe unable to do it themselves.

You can find Karaoke Matt’s contact information on his website along with all of his merchandise for sale. Remember, all of that goes right back to the community.