OFFSTAGE: Let Lionel Richie Help Craft Your Songs

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

An hour with Lionel Richie? That’s a prize way beyond grand. And it’s what you’ll win if you write the best song in the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) Song Contest presented by CMT .

As the big winner, you’d also get a three-day stay in Nashville, including airfare, plus two tickets to the 2013 CMT Music Awards and a Gibson guitar. And on top of all that, your song would be pitched to some music industry hot shots. (Even though NSAI is a Nashville group, the song doesn’t have to be a country one.)

If you don’t earn the grand prize with Lionel Richie and all that comes with it, the top songwriters are eligible to win mentoring sessions with CMT’s Evan Farmer or songwriter Tom Douglas (“I Run to You” and “The House That Built Me” ), other trips, tickets and instruments.

If you think you have more than one song that could win, enter them all. There’s no limit to how many songs you can submit. You just have to have to send your best by Oct. 31.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.