The Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum started with a vision that began to develop in the early 1980s. Calvin Wills had been singing Gospel Music with his sister, Lou Wills Hildreth, in the family group since 1938. He attended the G. I. School for Gospel Music after WWII in the late forties – The Singing Wills Family performed at the very first National Quartet Convention in 1957, and he was a co-founder of the Southern Gospel Music Association of Texas in 1972.
Calvin’s love for traditional Southern Gospel music had made him one of the most recognized names in all of Texas. His distinguished career included a syndicated television program, a noted recording company and studio (Sword & Shield), a weekly radio program (on air for over a decade), a printing and publishing company, and of course, the 30 record albums he sang on before retiring the family singing group in 1998 after 60 years. Because Lou had been involved in the development of the national Gospel Music Association in Nashville throughout the 60’s and 70’s, she had the much needed experience and helpful insight about the music industry. So in just a few short years and with the added support of two other Texans who were also passionate about Gospel music THE TEAM was ready: Calvin Wills, Tom Ellis and James Fudge would turn their vision into reality!
By early 1985 these three men had filed all the paperwork necessary to form a non-profit organization that would exist solely to promote and preserve the heritage of Gospel Music in Texas. Through a Hall of Fame induction system modeled after the Country Music Association and the Gospel Music Association they inducted their very first heroes of Texas Gospel Music: V. O. Stamps and J. R. Baxter. Since that time nearly 100 individuals and groups have been inducted and recognized for their talent, service and contribution to Gospel Music. Almost all of these heroes are native Texans and those few who aren’t “got here as fast as they could” (to quote a famous bumper sticker!)