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ACM SVP Lisa Lee Gone at 52 from Brain Cancer


Lisa Lee 1968 - 2021
Lisa Lee 1968 - 2021

Very sad news to report as Lisa Lee, Senior Vice President of creative and content for the Academy of Country Music, died Saturday, August 21st from brain cancer. She was 52.

Born Alicia Faye Young in Cabot, Arkansas, on December 24, 1968, she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and English from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a master's degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Lisa landed a reporting job at the Cabot Star-Herald newspaper straight out of school. A true advocate of the human condition, her reporting throughout her career was grounded by a strong emphasis on the heart of what a story meant to those impacted and those watching.

One of her early jobs was at KTAL-TV, an NBC affiliate serving Texarkana and Shreveport, LA. On her very first assignment, the camera stopped functioning due to high humidity; Lisa and crew "got creative," drying out the aging piece of equipment with a hair dryer, rather than miss the story because of a technical problem. Although her assignments covered a variety of topics, she made it very clear early on it was entertainment stories that truly interested her. Eventually she convinced station management to allow her to do movie reviews; she promptly constructed her own little critic's corner set.

If a Country star was appearing anywhere in Arkansas or surrounding states, Lisa would cover the event. Always turning in well-researched, thoughtful interviews, she proved local affiliates can do insightful, quality work.

A regular at Country Music events throughout the region, the always-friendly television journalist began forging meaningful friendships with other members of the media. A friendship with a reporter/producer from Jim Owens and Associates, the Nashville-based production company behind TNN Country News at the time, suggested keeping in touch. Soon she was checking in with the folks at Jim Owens, updating them on all the entertainment pieces she was working on, while not so subtly working to convince them to hire her.

As always, her ambition, talent, and unwillingness to take no for an answer paid off. Hired by Jim Owens and Associates, she served as a reporter and producer in Nashville from 1995 - 1999.

In 2000, Lisa moved to CMT and CMT.com as a news correspondent and producer. Then a part of the MTV Networks group, she not only reported on events across the United States, but also in England, Japan, Canada, and Switzerland.

Always looking to create and expand the social conversation, she also wrote and produced the Prism Award-winning special "Addicted to Addiction," as well as the TV news specials "Sex in Videos: Where's the Line" and "Controversy: Tammy Wynette."

In 2004, Lisa moved to Los Angeles, becoming the Hollywood-based correspondent and West Coast News Bureau Chief for CMT Insider, the network's interview-driven news show, where she covered music, movies, and television.

In 2007, three years after her move to L.A., Lisa accepted the Academy of Country Music's offer to draw on her experience as a TV journalist and producer to help the Academy establish and grow their own in-house creative and video production department. As the Academy's lead staff producer, she oversaw all video production as well as the design, creation, and editing of ACM logos, digital and printed materials including ACM Tempo magazine, the ACM Awards program book, and both the ACM and ACM Lifting Lives websites.

With her long history of production and network teamwork, Lee served as a liaison with CBS television's creative departments and CBS.com for promos and creative content surrounding the annual ACM Awards. She was named producer of the Academy of Country Music Honors, a live industry event dedicated to celebrating the Academy's special award honorees, off-camera category winners, and ACM Industry and Studio Recording Awards winners. Held each year at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Lisa imbued the event with a real love for the people who go the extra mile to support, expand, and protect Country Music in its most creative places.

In 2014, Lisa wrote and created This Is Country: A Backstage Pass to the Academy of Country Music Awards. The deeply researched coffee table book celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ACM Awards and included a forward by Reba McEntire.

Co-workers from over the years and around the globe have remained close friends. Each is quick to acknowledge not just the joyous ambitious nature that took her from a small town in Arkansas to graduate school at Northwestern University, to a job as a Los Angeles-based entertainment news correspondent, to a Senior Vice President position at the Academy of Country Music, but also her deeply generous heart. In a tough business, she understood the stakes but also recognized the power of bringing light to everything she did.

Lisa was a member of the Writers Guild of America. She was also a Leadership Music alum. She was a devoted mother, wife and friend; always the first one with a smile, a quick laugh or a kind word on a long day.

Lisa is survived by her parents, Charlie and Faye Young; her husband (and high school sweetheart) Doug Lee; daughter Grayson, and son Jackson. Also, in laws Phillip and Sarah Lee of Cabot and many other Lee family members. She was preceded in death by her grandparents and brothers, Jason Young and Dennis Young. Visitation to be held this Friday from 5-8 pm at Moore's Funeral Home, 700 North Second Street, Cabot, Arkansas followed by a memorial service Saturday. To stay updated on details for next weekend's services, the celebration of life to be held in Nashville at a later date, and to support her family by contributing to her memorial fund, please click HERE.

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