MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — An MTSU Department of Recording Industry alumnus with a cabinet full of honors and a long list of chart-topping projects is now the Academy of Country Music’s two-time audio engineer of the year.
He’ll be recognized at a ceremony set Wednesday, Aug. 25, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Former MTSU student Hillary Scott and her longtime partners in country supergroup Lady A also will be honored that night for their philanthropic efforts with the ACM’s Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award.
The ACM Honors, which are held after each year’s televised ACM Awards ceremony, recognize the academy's special awards, off-camera winners and the industry, songwriter and studio recording awards, including the producer and engineer honors.
The Aug. 25 event will recognize winners from both the 55th annual ACM Awards for the industry and studio recording awards, which weren’t presented in 2020 because of the pandemic, and the 56th annual ACMs’ studio recording and special awards.
Shippen, who hauled home his most recent Grammy in January 2020 for engineering Gloria Gaynor’s best roots gospel album winner, “Testimony,” has won five Grammys since 2001 and has been a part of six other Grammy-winning projects, as well as multiple ACM and Country Music Award winners, during his career.
He was the ACM’s 2019 audio engineer of the year and has created the sound for gold, platinum and No. 1 hits in multiple genres, too. A member of the College of Media and Entertainment's Wall of Fame since 2017, his credits range from Kelsea Ballerini and India.Arie to the Backstreet Boys and Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
One of his 2021 mixing projects, Carrie Underwood’s “My Savior,” debuted at the top of both the country and Christian charts this spring and also reached No. 1 on Billboard’s top albums, top country albums, top Christian albums and current digital albums charts.
Shippen has served as co-chair of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ Producers & Engineers Wing. He owns and operates Robot Lemon, a private Nashville studio with a unique hybrid analog/digital studio setup.
Scott and her bandmates, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley, are being saluted for their “history of consistently participating in ACM Lifting Lives events and fundraisers, at times even assuming hosting duties,” the awards organizers said in a release.
The ACM Lifting Lives Foundation, which selects the winners of the award honoring Haber, its late chairman, is the Academy of Country Music’s philanthropic arm and develops and funds music-related therapy and education programs.
The trio also was nominated this year for the ACM’s group of the year and in the event of the year category as part of an ensemble featured on Thomas Rhett's "Be a Light."
Lady A began their successful awards-show adventures in 2009, using multiplatinum-selling “I Run to You" and "Need You Now” to launch a winning streak that also earned 1980 MTSU recording industry alumnus L. Clarke Schleicher three engineering Grammys, a fistful of ACM awards and his own two nominations as the ACM’s engineer of the year.
Called Lady Antebellum since its 2006 founding, the group changed its name in June 2020 to remove slavery-related connotations in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. The group was nominated for the 2020 ACM single of the year for "What If I Never Get Over You."
More alumni nominated for ACM Honors
MTSU alumni also were nominated in multiple categories for this year’s ACM Honors.
Michael Hardy, who uses only his last name professionally, earned his commercial songwriting degree from MTSU in 2013 and received his second nomination as the ACM’s songwriter of the year in 2021.
Hardy has written seven No. 1 songs for other artists in his eight-year professional career, including the 2020 ACM single of the year winner and song of the year nominee, "God's Country," for Blake Shelton.
He released his full-length debut CD as an artist last September, resulting in nominations as the ACM’s new male artist of the year and for the music event of the year for his No. 1 single, "One Beer," featuring Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson.
Jason A. Hall, a 2000 recording industry alumnus, was MTSU’s second ACM audio engineer nominee this year. He’s engineered multiple Grammy- and ACM Award-nominated projects and has won two Grammys, including one in March for the 2020 best country album, Miranda Lambert’s "Wildcard."
Hall also competed against himself in the 56th ACM Awards’ album of the year category in April and earned a nomination for single of the year for Lambert’s “Bluebird,” too.
2014 audio production grad Jimmy Mansfield, Hall's partner in the Lambert Grammy win, also served as assistant engineer for their two ACM-nominated albums: the Brothers Osborne's new "Skeletons" and Ashley McBryde's acclaimed "Never Will."
Mansfield also worked on Lambert’s "Bluebird" single.
Hall and Mansfield have been nominated for multiple awards for their work with artists including Eric Church and Little Big Town. Hall also has a 2005 best rock gospel album Grammy for his work with Audio Adrenaline.
Under Academy of Country Music rules, awards for album, single and music event of the year go to the winning artist, producers and record company. The song of the year award goes to the songwriter, music publisher and artist, and performance awards go to the artist.
Department nears 4th decade of training
MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry made Billboard’s annual list of America’s top music business schools for the seventh time in 2020, standing with its counterparts across the country as top producers of ready-to-work music industry pros.
MTSU established its Department of Recording Industry in 1973 and presented its first Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. It offers undergraduate degrees in audio production, commercial songwriting and music business and a graduate program with a Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies degree and a new MBA degree with a music business concentration.
Slightly more than 1,100 students currently are recording industry majors at MTSU. About two-thirds are audio production majors, and a third are music business or commercial songwriting majors.
For more information about the Department of Recording Industry in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, visit https://mtsu.edu/recording-industry.
The college, which also includes the School of Journalism and Strategic Media and the Department of Media Arts, has a website at https://mtsu.edu/media.
For more on the Academy of Country Music and its annual awards, including a list of all the 2021 nominees and winners, visit https://www.acmcountry.com.