Lisa Lee, Academy of Country Music Executive, Dies at 52

The beloved producer, journalist and mother passed away Saturday after a fight with brain cancer.

Written by Chris Parton
Lisa Lee, Academy of Country Music Executive, Dies at 52
Lisa Lee. Photo Courtesy of Academy of Country Music

The country music industry is saying goodbye to a beloved member of its behind the scenes family, sadly taken too soon.

Lisa Lee, Senior Vice President of creative and content for the Academy of Country Music, died Saturday, August 21, after a battle with brain cancer. She was 52.

Lee was highly regarded in country circles as both an influential producer, journalist and executive, and as a friend. An Arkansas native who got her start as a local TV reporter, she eventually got involved in country music and became a correspondent and producer for CMT and After becoming the West Coast News Bureau Chief for CMT Insider and producing numerous acclaimed documentary reports — all filled with the love of a true country-music fan — she found a home at the Academy of Country Music, overseeing video production and many of the details that fans associate with the Academy’s big events.

For many years, Lee served as the ACM’s liaison with CBS television for ACM Awards, helping bring that annual TV spectacle to life, and she also oversaw the yearly ACM Honors — which are set to host their 14th annual event in Nashville on August 25. Lee literally wrote the book on the ACM Awards, publishing This Is Country: A Backstage Pass to the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2014, and she leaves behind husband Doug Lee, daughter Grayson and son Jackson. 

Upon news of her passing, Lisa Lee was remembered by country stars and colleagues around the industry. All took special care to note the heart she brought to her work.

“Lisa has always been a light inside our industry,” said reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year, Luke Bryan. “Her ability for telling not only my story but the story of so many was unmatched because it was from her heart. She truly loved her job and it showed on her face every time she was around. I will miss her.”

“Lisa Lee and I grew up together in this business,” said Kenny Chesney. “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. Good-bye, my sweet friend.”

“I always loved getting to visit with Lisa whether it be about the music business or an interview,” Reba McEntire shared. “She was a huge asset to our business. I sure will miss her smiling face.”

“We lost one of our true lights yesterday,” Keith Urban added. “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. Peace be with all of her family today.”

“Lisa Lee loved country music, and if you knew her, she LOVED you,” said Trisha Yearwood. “We are a better industry because of the love and care she showed in everything she did. I know she always had a smile and kind word for me. She loved life. We all need to take a lesson from the book of Lisa and let kindness and love lead the way.”

“The Academy has lost a huge part of its heart and soul with the passing of Lisa Lee,” said Lee’s boss — CEO of the Academy of Country Music, Damon Whiteside. “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.”

A visitation to be held this Friday (August 27) in Lee’s home town of Cabot, Arkansas, from 5-8 pm at Moore’s Funeral Home (700 North Second Street). A memorial service will be held Saturday, and a Nashville remembrance is being planned for a later date. Those wishing to donate to a memorial fund in Lee’s honor may do so here.