Lisa Lee (1968–2021)

aka: Alicia Faye Young Lee

Arkansas native Lisa Lee was a respected journalist in both print media and television, as well as a television producer and author. During the last few years of her life, she was senior vice president of creative content for the Academy of Country Music and produced the annual Academy of Country Music Honors.

Alicia Faye Young, better known as Lisa, was born on December 24, 1968, in Cabot (Lonoke County) to Charlie and Faye Young; she had two brothers. She grew up in Cabot and graduated from Cabot High School in 1987, having served as the school yearbook editor.

She graduated from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) with a BA in journalism and English in 1991, and in 1993 she earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. For a time after completing college, she worked as a reporter for the Cabot Star Herald. She then moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, accepting a job in broadcast journalism at the local NBC affiliate, KTAL-TV. She convinced station management to allow her to produce on-air movie reviews. She built her own set, where she did the movie reviews and also reported on country music and events in the area.

Her journalistic career received a major boost in the mid-1990s when she learned that country star Collin Raye was visiting his hometown of De Queen (Sevier County), where a street was being named in his honor. While there interviewing Raye, she met a reporter from The Nashville Network (TNN), a country television network. With this chance meeting, Lee made connections with network executives and began to produce freelance entertainment segments for the network. In less than two years, she was employed as a full-time anchor for TNN. In 2000, she accepted a position as news correspondent and producer for Country Music Television (CMT). While at CMT, she reported on events in the United States as well as many foreign countries.

In 2004, she moved to Los Angeles to become the Hollywood-based correspondent and West Coast News Bureau Chief for CMT Insider, reporting on movies, music, and television. Three years later, she accepted the position of lead staff producer for the Academy of Country Music. At the academy, she was instrumental in creating and developing a creative and video production department. She oversaw all video production and was in charge of design, creation, and editing of ACM logos, as well as digital and printed materials. These editorial responsibilities included the ACM Awards program book, ACM Tempo magazine, and the ACM and ACM Lifting Lives websites. Lee produced the Academy of Country Music Honors, a live event broadcast after the ACM Awards to recognize special award honorees. She also served as the academy’s liaison with CBS television and CBS.com for production of the Academy of Country Music Honors.

Lee wrote and produced Addicted to Addiction, a Prism Award–winning special; Sex and Videos: Where’s the Line; and Controversy: Tammy Wynette. In 2014, she authored a book celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the ACM Awards, This Is Country: A Backstage Pass to the Academy of Country Music Awards. She was a member of the Writers Guild of America.

Lee died of brain cancer on August 21, 2021. Upon hearing the news, many country music stars such as Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and Reba McEntire expressed their respect for her work and friendship. Lee once said, “I get to listen to music for a living. My entire career has been so fun.” Lee was married to her high school sweetheart Doug Lee and had a son and a daughter.

For additional information:
Cantrell, L. B. “Beloved TV Journalist and Producer Lisa Lee Dies at 52.” Music Row, August 23, 2021. https://musicrow.com/2021/08/beloved-tv-journalist-and-producer-lisa-lee-dies-at-52/ (accessed March 5, 2022).

Lee, Lisa. A Backstage Pass to the Academy of Country Music Awards. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014.

McLeod, Jerry. “Country Music Executive, Former Broadcaster Lisa Lee Dies; Cabot Native Was 52.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette August 23, 2021. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/aug/23/country-music-executive-lisa-lee-dies-cabot-native/ (accessed March 5, 2022).

Obituary of Alicia “Lisa” Faye Lee. https://www.moorescabotfuneralhome.com/obituary/lisa-lee (accessed March 5, 2022).

Mike Polston
CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Last Updated: 03/05/2022

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