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Kaua‘i director takes Country Music Awards honor

Thousands of country music fans flocked to Las Vegas Tuesday for the Academy of Country Music Awards, and among them was Kalihiwai Ridge’s Jim Shea.

“It was really exciting,” he said. “There were some 16,000 people and a million cameras.”

But Shea wasn’t just there as an audience member. He was there to take home the award for Video of the Year for directing Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton in “When I Get Where I was Going.”

“That was really great, to go up there and receive my award,” he said. “But right after you come off the stage, they take the award away. They’re going to mail me the real one. They just keep giving the same one to people over and over again.”

Afterwards, Shea attended the after parties where he was joined by producers he’s worked with and some of his celebrity friends.

“I got to see a lot of people I worked with. Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley and his wife were all there,” he said. “It’s been really great. I’ve been really fortunate. The voting is done by your peers. That’s the reward enough. That’s really what it’s about. People recognize your work as one of the best.”

Shea’s wife Shellie and 9-year-old daughter Molly were unable to attend.

“Usually I’d take my family with me, but Molly is in school so she couldn’t come,” he said.

But his trip to the Mainland was not all play. The day right after the awards show, he and his colleagues drove through the desert to go back to work in Los Angeles.

“Looking out, it’s very different from Kaua‘i. There’s not a green tree in sight. It’s all barren,” he said.

Shea said he tries to coordinate his trips away from the island to tie in several projects at once.

“I try to tie in these awards shows with shoots so I can kill two birds with one stone,” he said.

Just this past November, Shea attended the Country Music Association awards where he was nominated for another video he directed for Brad Paisley, “Alcohol.”

“(Brad) just calls me up. He likes my work. He’ll send me a song and I’ll come up with an idea for a music video,” Shea said.

After that, Shea was in Australia working with Olivia Newton-John and the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House.

Throughout his career, which includes the award-winning album cover for Linda Ronstadt’s “Simple Dreams,” and working as a director during the early creation of MTV, Shea has worked with Joni Mitchell, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Aerosmith and frequent Kaua‘i visitor Jackson Browne.

“I actually went to the recent Jackson Browne show at Kula School with David Lindley and shot a couple photos,” he said.

Despite his success, there are still a few artists he wishes he could work with.

“I would’ve liked to have worked with The Beatles when they were around. The Rolling Stones, I would’ve have liked to have worked with. I really like their music,” he said.

Although Shea has big ties to the entertainment industry, he does however keep close ties to the islands.

Locally, Shea shoots still photography and on occasion does work for the airline magazine Hana Hou.

Shea has also produced commercials and documentaries for the big and small screen, those including the award-winning documentary “Rhythm, Country and Blues” for PBS, the Frank Sinatra documentary “Duets” and the ABC special Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.”

For more on Shea or to view some of his work, visit www.jimsheaphotography.com.

• Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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