Meet The 2018 Songwriter Contest & Awards Judges

The Judges for the 2018 Songwriter Contest and awards is an impressive and influential team of professionals whose experience and background provide for a fair and quality judging process.  They are:  Rod PhelpsHeather Little, Del Way, Chris Christian, Linda Wilson, Richard Wilson

Rod Phelps

Rod Phelps

Rod Phelps has a 50 year history of working in the entertainment industry, starting with booking acts while at Baylor University.

Mr. Phelps, an entertainment attorney, served as general counsel for the Dallas Songwriter's Association from its inception until the mid-2000's.  He discovered and was the major force behind the careers of Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Chris Cagle and Rory Lee Feeks.

In 1985, Rod Phelps drove from Dallas to listen to Garth Brooks. Phelps liked what he heard and produced Brooks' first demo. With Phelps's encouragement, including a list of Phelps' contacts in Nashville and some of his credit cards, Brooks traveled to Nashville to pursue a recording contract.

Phelps also discovered Miranda Lambert, who was hired in 2002 to perform at his nephew Tye Phelps' country music venue in Plano, TX, "Love And War in Texas".  There Miranda and her father, Rick, met Rod Phelps who was impressed with the Lamberts and sent letters and demos to producer and record executive Mark Wright and Garth's manager, Bob Doyle. Their positive responses induced Miranda to return to Nashville and the rest is history.

  Heather Little  

Heather Little is a singer/songwriter whose work has been recorded by Miranda Lambert, Sunny Sweeney, Travis Meadows, Kacey Musgraves, Rachel Proctor, and Tiffany (yep- THAT Tiffany.) among others.

Heather was twice voted best singer/songwriter of the Upper East Side around her home in East Texas.  She is the recipient of two BMI awards for songwriting as well as the lofty honor of being somebody’s momma.  Her album “Wings Like These” is available digitally on iTunes, or on any number of streaming servicesand she has a new album is due out in early 2017.     



Del Way 

Del Way is a Christian Country singer/songwriter and and Pastor.  In the last twenty years, Del has written and recorded numerous songs, each with a unique message that reaches and changes people. He has been nominated for numerous awards and been awarded many – his most recent being the 2007 Entertainer of the Year for the Christian Country Music Association. He has written many songs that have charted number one on the Christian Country Music Charts. Some of Del's songs are Calvary's the Reason Why, There's a Cross Standing in the Way, The Old Man is Dead and many more.  Del is often invited to appear on the nationally televised Praise the Lord program called By The Way.

Del accomplished his 16th project, Livin’ this Life, with two of the songs from this project already doing well on the national charts for Christian Country Music. His current singles are Card Carrying Christian, which debuted at number 27 on the charts, and This Far From You. His latest number one single is Until Your Love from his Cavalry’s the Reason Why Reloaded project.

Along with a successful music ministry, Del is the Pastor of Calvalry Temple Church in Kerrville, Texas. He oversees three other churches in the area, Thousand Hills Cowboy Church, Calvary Temple Church in Centerpoint/Comfort, and Thunder in the Hills Biker Church.

Del’s life is busy to say the least, but he is not slowing down. He says he must make hay while the sun still shines, and the light is shining bright now. He is anxious to see what God has in store next, and Del knows that his best days are still ahead.

Chris Christian
Chris Christian began his professional music career in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1974. Through the years, he has been a performer, songwriter, publishing company executive, recording engineer, record producer, record label executive, and, ultimately, the founder and chief executive officer of his own music production and publishing companies, Home Sweet Home Records and LCS Music Group, Inc. He and his partner Ross Perot Jr. also owned the largest Motion Picture Soundstage in the South, The Studios at Las Colinas. After selling the movie studios, he teamed up with RadioShack, Sirius, and Dish Network to form an integrated media company and was CEO until May, 2008.

Mr. Christian's 30 years in the music industry have led to nine Grammy Award nominations as a music producer, artist and publisher, four of which won Grammys. He has also been nominated for seven Gospel Music Association Dove Awards as a music producer, publisher and songwriter, winning five Doves. Chris is also responsible for starting the career of Amy Grant, and has produced over 100 albums that have sold in excess of 10 million copies.

He has written over two thousand songs, many of which have been recorded by such artists Elvis Presley, Olivia Newton-John, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, The Pointer Sisters, Ali Lohan, Take Six, Marilyn McCoo, Jerry Reed, Dionne Warwick, The Carpenters, Jeannie C. Riley, Sheena Easton, Cheryl Ladd, B.J. Thomas, Debby Boone, B.W. Stevenson, Jane Olivor, Darryl Cotton, Cotton, Lloyd & Christian, and Donny and Marie Osmond. Chris has also written or co-written for contemporary Christian Artists such as Amy Grant, B.J. Thomas, Eric Champion, The Boones, Little Anthony, The Imperials, Dan Peek, Steve Archer, B.W. Stevenson, The New Gaither VocalBand, The Archers, Sandy Patti, Dogwood, Austin Roberts, Luke Garrett, Larnelle Harris, and many more. He has had three Top Ten Billboard singles as an Artist and many more as a producer.

He has appeared on Solid Gold, American Bandstand, The Merv Griffin show, Midnight Special, Cliff Richard Show, and many other national television performances. In addition, Chris has written jingles for Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, GMC, Frito-Lay, Chick Fil-A, McDonald's, and Stouffers. He also has written songs for special projects like the Dallas Cowboys 1985 and 1986 Christmas albums, the 1989 tribute to Tom Landry titled “The Man Behind The Man”, and scored the major motion picture Dakota, which starred actor Lou Diamond Phillips. He also co-created and wrote original songs and scoring for the national children's television show “Gerbert” which won an ACE Cable award. He has written and produced music for several CBS Sports broadcasts including the Masters Golf Tournament, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and the NFL Today. Chris has extensive relationships in the entertainment, media, and corporate world and lives in Dallas, Texas. He currently is Vice Chairman/Managing Partner of the Dallas Wings (WNBA), that plays at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.

Linda Wilson

Linda Wilson is the Chairman of the Board and President of the Texas Country Music Association, Inc. and its charity, Texas Country Cares, which she founded in 2011. Country superstar Mark Chesnutt is the Texas Country Music Association's official Spokesperson. Her past and current involvement in the Country Music industry prompted her to initiate the TCMA and begin to build it to be the premier organization dedicated to the promotion and support of both established and new independent Country and Christian Country Music Artists, Singers, Songwriters and Musicians from Texas as well as those who perform in Texas.

Linda Wilson formerly founded, owned and published Texas Country Music Magazine and Today's Country Magazine in Houston and cross promoted them with KIKK Radio.  She interviewed and wrote about a host of Country Artists who were both from and performing regularly in Texas, such as Terry McBride, Tanya Tucker, Shania Twain, Toby Keith, George Strait, Tracy Lawrence, and the TCMA’s own Spokesperson, Mark Chesnutt, along with many more.  

Additionally she partnered in a booking and management agency that secured performance dates in Texas for up-and-coming artists at that time, such as Tim McGraw, John Michael Montgomery, Doug Supernaw and Rick Trevino, and established artists such as Ricky Van Shelton, Mark Colle, John Conlee and Joe Diffie, to name a few. With almost 30 years’ experience in the Country Music Industry in booking, management, marketing, media and promotion, event coordination, performance and recording, Linda Wilson’s experience, contacts, marketing and promotion savvy qualifies her to lead the organization with style and effectiveness.  Linda Wilson also served as Praise and Worship Leader in church for 20 years.


Richard A. Wilson
Richard Wilson is an accomplished musician -- primarily a drummer and percussionist, as well as a vocalist who has spent a lifetime involved in the performance end of  live music.

As a teen and young adult, Richard traveled with The Wilson Family Singers, his family's gospel music evangelistic group where he played drums and led vocals. Since that time Richard has been drummer and vocalist in live country bands opening for and playing with major acts in Texas.

The past 10 years he has been with with Steve Mays and Three of a Kind, a band specializing in traditional Country whose home base is in East Texas and performs throughout the State.  They will be playing at the Pre-Show for the 2017 Texas Country Music Awards.

Mr. Wilson serves as a Board Member and Vice President of the Texas County Music Association.

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