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2017 Platinum Music Awards Honorees Announced

Platinum Music Awards – 2017 Honorees Announced!

The New Mexico Music Commission and its Foundation announce six music legends to be honored at the inaugural Platinum Music Awards. The gala event will celebrate the lifetime achievements of the six honorees through presentations and performances taking place at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on July 21, 2017.

The inaugural Class of 2017 Platinum Music Awards honorees are:

Arlen Asher — Multi-woodwind maestro, Arlen Asher, is one of New Mexico’s long-standing jazz luminaries. He has performed on major recordings and at numerous jazz festivals, as well as a producer and on-air personality for KNME-TV, KOB-TV and KHFM radio. His private woodwind studio has taught woodwind fundamentals and jazz improvisation to hundreds of students for more than 50 years. At 87-years old, Asher remains active as a performer while hosting “The Jazz Experience” on KSFR, Santa Fe Public Radio station.

Fernando Cellicion — Fernando Cellicion is an accomplished musician playing many contemporary instruments and the ancient Native American flute for which he has developed his own style and sound. His efforts in defining a Native American music genre have created Native American songs that could be shared publicly (outside the Pueblo) and helped shape the unique Native American music and performance genre. Fernando is a solid leader in the New Mexico Native American music genre, representing New Mexico Indigenous People throughout the world.

Bill and Bonnie Hearne — Texas transplants, Bill and Bonnie Hearne, became an institution in New Mexico’s musical landscape beginning in 1979, with their unique blend of Southwest Americana, bluegrass, country and swing music that influenced many artists including Lyle Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nanci Griffith and Eliza Gilkyson. After Bonnie quit touring in 2003 due to health issues, Bill formed a trio and quartet and continues to play and record his music. Bill’s most recent release, “All That’s Real” shows him as an inspired performer who has travelled many miles down the honky tonk road.

Al Hurricane — Alberto Nelson “Al Hurricane” Sanchez is a key figure in the history of New Mexico’s music scene having released more than thirty albums, reflecting his unique blend of Norteño and Tex-Mex musical styles. His musical roots trace back to 5-years old when he and his guitar began developing a unique approach combining country music, old Mexican rancheras and rock. Through the years, he has performed alongside Fats Domino, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Clanton, and Chubby Checker.

Dr. Dale E. Kempter — Dale Kempter is one of the Southwest’s most outstanding and beloved music educators and conductors who has been at the helm of the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program (AYSP) for more than 50 years, where he continues as Music Director Laureate. He also served as supervisor of fine arts and instruction coordinator for Albuquerque Public Schools for many years. Kempter was honored in 1989 as “Music Educator of the Year” by the New Mexico Music Educators Association, and won the 1991 American String Teachers National School Education Award as well as the New Mexico Governor’s Arts Award in 2002.

Catherine OppenheimerThe Lee Berk Award — A former professional dancer with the New York City Ballet, Catherine Oppenheimer has provided opportunities for talented young musicians throughout the state to receive top-quality music education. In 1994, she co-founded the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, a statewide organization annually teaching nearly 10,000 children throughout the state. In 2010, she was also the driving force behind the creation of New Mexico School for the Arts, the state’s first residential high school for the performing and visual arts.

“These six distinguished honorees were selected from a diverse set of nominations of all musical genres from all parts of New Mexico. The selection committee, appointed by the Music Commission, was tasked with picking five recipients from the public’s nominations for this year’s awards ceremony,” said David Schwartz, producer of the Platinum Music Awards and president of the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation. “With this diverse group, the show at the Lensic promises to be entertaining and eclectic.”

Musicians, celebrities and distinguished guests will be featured with musical performances and personal tributes. Joe West with his band, the Santa Fe Revue, will be the master of ceremonies in support of the many musical tributes. In addition, Solace Crisis Treatment Center’s 2017 Person of the Year will be announced and many local and national acts and presenters will provide entertainment during the show.

The Platinum Music Awards is also a benefit to provide funding for the New Mexico Music Commission’s “Music in School” programs and for the Solace Crisis Treatment Center, a non-profit agency that provides support and services to individuals who are in crisis or suffering from trauma.

“We would also like to thank our many sponsors that have generously contributed funds and support that helped make this event possible, including our presenting sponsor Allstate Insurance,” said Ned Jacobs, co-producer of the PMAs. “Our co-producing sponsor AMP has been instrumental in helping to coordinate talent and other events surrounding the show. Platinum Level sponsors Cisneros Design, 4LEET, LANB, Hutton Broadcasting and, of course, the Lensic have also provided crucial support, along with our Gold Circle and Sustaining sponsors.”

Prior to the event at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, the music legends will be honored at a private ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion.

Tickets for the event are available March 21, 2017 at the Lensic Box Office or call (505) 988-1234.

For more information on the Platinum Music Awards, visit or email