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Lisa Lee, a former broadcast journalist for the CMT cable network who spent the past 15 years as an executive with the Academy of Country Music, died Saturday of brain cancer. She was 52.
A senior vp creative and content, Lee produced ACM Honors, a live industry event held each year at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville that celebrates special award honorees and off-camera ACM Awards category winners.
Lee joined ACM in 2007 to help it establish its own in-house creative and video production department. As lead staff producer, she oversaw video production and digital and printed materials including ACM Tempo magazine, the ACM Awards program book and the ACM and ACM Lifting Lives websites.
In 2014, she wrote and created This Is Country: A Backstage Pass to the Academy of Country Music Awards, a coffee table book that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the awards and included a forward by Reba McEntire.
“We lost one of our true lights yesterday,” Keith Urban said in a statement. “Lisa Lee was one of the most passionate and caring people I’ve ever met. Her love and appreciation of music, and the artists who made it, was everything you’d ever want. I loved being interviewed by her for that reason and because she always brought such a warmth into the room.”
Alicia Faye Young was born on Dec. 24, 1968, in Cabot, Arkansas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a master’s in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University.
After working for the Cabot Star-Herald newspaper in Arkansas and NBC affiliate KTAL-TV, she served as a Nashville-based reporter and producer for Jim Owens and Associates from 1995-99, then joined CMT and CMT.com as a news correspondent and producer in 2000. She wrote and produced TV specials including Addicted to Addiction, Sex in Videos: Where’s the Line and Controversy: Tammy Wynette.
In 2004, Lee came to L.A. as the Hollywood-based correspondent and West Coast bureau chief for the interview-driven CMT Insider program and covered music, movies and television.
“Lisa Lee and I grew up together in this business,” Kenny Chesney said. “She was a TV reporter, producer, writer and big executive. She covered my heroes and my friends, she wrote about me and my mother. She truly cared about country music — and I absolutely cared about her. Goodbye, my sweet friend.”
“The Academy has lost a huge part of its heart and soul with the passing of Lisa Lee,” ACM CEO Damon Whiteside added. “She was a champion for country music and fiercely dedicated to the Academy’s mission for her over 15 years of service to the ACM. She is irreplaceable, but her heart and spirit will live on throughout our industry. ACM Honors was her favorite event, and I know she will be singing along and smiling down on us from above on Wednesday night.”
Survivors include her parents, Charlie and Faye; her husband and high school sweetheart, Doug; and her children Grayson and Jackson. Details about services and a fund to help her family can be found here.
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