R. W. Hampton (born June 17, 1957 in Houston, Texas) is an award-winning American western music singer-songwriter, actor and playwright. Hampton has achieved both critical and popular success, winning multiple awards from the Western Music Association and the Academy of Western Artists and three separate Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, as well as developing a widespread devoted fan base.
A prolific writer and popular performer, Hampton is known for his patriotism, his family values and Christian beliefs. His wife, Lisa, doubles as his agent.
After more than a decade as a dedicated cowboy enjoying the hard-working western ranch lifestyle, Hampton decided to explore his other passion: music. In 1984, he released his first album, Travelin' Light, and began building a reputation for his songwriting and performance talents, with appearances at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His music caught the attention of Kenny Rogers who used R. W. to play himself, a cowboy singing at the campfire, in the television movie, Wild Horses.
Hampton worked at assorted duties--repairing fences, fall and spring roundups, and checking windmills--in numerous places, including the former Spade Ranch in Texas, the IL Ranch in northern Nevada, the ZX Ranch in Oregon, and the Pickerel Land and Cattle Company in Wyoming, but he preferred the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico, where he owns the Clearview Ranch, located some twenty miles southwest of Cimarron.
Throughout the 1990s, Hampton continued his prolific recording and entertainment career, appearing in several Western films and recording five albums in six years from 1994 to 1999. In 1996, R.W. received the Academy of Western Artists' first Will Rogers Awards honoring him with both Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. A year later, his album, Ridin' The Dreamland Range, won recognition as the association's Album of the Year. The Academy named Hampton its Male Vocalist of the Year again in 1999.
The Last Cowboy (1993):
The 1990s also saw Hampton's skills as a playwright blossom. The one-man stage play The Last Cowboy was written with his brother, Jeff, and playwright Dave Marquis in 1993. The show has received high praise not only for Hampton's performance, but for his insightful interpretation of the cowboy past as well. In addition, his album, The Last Cowboy - His Journey, which was inspired by the play, earned him his first Wrangler Award in 2000 for Excellence in Dramatic Presentation and Original Music Composition from the National Cowboy Museum and Western Heritage Center.
"For The Freedom" (2006):
Hampton's success continued into the 2000s with a Western Music Association award for Top Male Performer in 2004. In 2006, R.W. won the WMA Song of the Year award for his composition "For the Freedom" (which appears on his album I Believe). As described by American Cowboy magazine, "For The Freedom" "touches the heart in a personal way. Regardless of how one feels about war, it beautifully honors the soldiers' work and commitment."
In 2008, R.W. won his second Western Heritage Award, this time for his album Oklahoma ... Where the West Remains! which was named Outstanding Traditional Western Album. This album is Hampton's first performance with a full orchestra. It was praised by Western Horseman magazine for showcasing Hampton's "deep, velvety vocals, idyllic lyrics and cowboy authenticity" which has "captivated audiences worldwide."
"Austin to Boston" (2010):
Prior to the album's release, the first European focus track, "Cowboy's Prayer," debuted at #2 on the UK Hotdisc Top 40 chart and quickly rose to #1, where it enjoyed a three-week reign; the second European focus track, "Driftin' Again," debuted at #1. Early in 2011, Hampton received his third Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Museum and Western Heritage Center in the "Outstanding Original Western Composition" category for his song, "Shortgrass", from this album.
Lubbock Cowboy Symposium (2013):
With twelve albums to his credit, Hampton is a headline performer at the 2013 National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas, sponsored in part by the American Cowboy Culture Association. It was in Lubbock in 1978 where Hampton first played before an audience; his selection at that time was "Little Joe the Wrangler."
Spirituality shines through Hampton's singing and songwriting. In an interview with Ray Westbrook of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Hampton reflects:
The spiritual songs seem to go right along with the cowboy life. There's varying degrees of people's faith out where we live, but it seems to go right along, because you work out in this creation -- God's creation. ... Every time I see a beautiful sunset or a sunrise -- and I've seen a bunch of them -- I always think of the song, "How Great Thou Art." I like to call it the world's greatest cowboy song because it talks about God's creation. ... When the sun comes up over the horizon, it just lights everything up, and you go "wow!"...
I have a song, kind of a signature song, called "Born to be a Cowboy." It says, "The life I love I freely chose; I'm at it yet tonight. I was born to be a cowboy, and I will be 'til I die."
His peers in the Western entertainment industry have honored R.W.'s performing and songwriting fifteen times, perhaps most notably in November 2011, when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Western Music Association. His first industry accolades came in 1996, when the Academy of Western Artists presented him with its first Will Rogers awards, naming him both Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. Twelve months later, his album, Ridin' The Dreamland Range, won recognition as the group's Album of the Year. The Academy named Hampton its Male Vocalist of the Year again in 1999, 2002 and 2006.
The Western Music Association voted him Top Male Performer for 2004 and 2010, and his composition, "For the Freedom" (from his Western gospel album, I Believe) won the 2006 WMA Song of the Year. In September 2009, Hampton received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Cowboy Culture.
With one of the largest social media followings in the Western Entertainment world, Hampton's Facebook page has grown to include more than 36,000 "fans" - a remarkable achievement in today's cowboy world.