"I was surprised to receive the call from The Recording Academy president before Christmas and am honored for the recognition," Shea said. "The music has been for God's glory."
Shea, who will turn 102 years-old the week before receiving this honor, is among the oldest living persons to be honoured by The Recording Academy. He is still performing publicly, having sung at several Christmas concerts near his home in Asheville, North Carolina.
Last month, he joined longtime colleagues Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows at an event in Charlotte celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Over his musical and ministry career spanning more than 80 years, Shea has produced more than 70 albums of hymns, including nine CDs, with RCA and Word Records. He has already received ten nominations and one Grammy Award (1965) from The Recording Academy.
Shea's 2011 Special Merit Award co-recipients are Julie Andrews, Roy Haynes, the Juilliard String Quartet, the Kingston Trio, Dolly Parton and the Ramones. According to The Recording Academy's website (www.grammy.com), the Lifetime Achievement Award honours lifelong artistic contributions to the recording medium, and is determined by vote of The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees.
"It is a great honor to recognise and celebrate such a distinguished and dynamic group of honorees who have been the creators of such timeless art," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow.
"These influential performers and brilliant innovators have been of great inspiration to our culture and industry. Their legendary work has left a lasting impression and will continue to influence generations to come."
The award recipients will be honored at a special invitation-only ceremony during Grammy Week on February 12 and a formal acknowledgment will be made during the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards telecast on Sunday, February 13.