New Mexico Music Commission’s Platinum Music Awards

The Platinum Music Awards are suspended indefinitely.

The Platinum Music Awards (PMA) are the State of New Mexico’s highest honor for the music industry. Five “Platinums” are presented annually to living musicians and music supporters who have demonstrated lifetime achievement in their music genre or have made significant and distinguished contributions to New Mexico’s music industry. Nominations are invited from organizations and the public. A jury of music industry experts appointed by the Music Commission selects the honorees.

In conjunction with the Platinum Music Awards is the Lee Berk Award. It is a producer’s award selected and conferred by the board of the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation (NMMCF). The NMMCF produces the annual Platinum Music Awards show on behalf of the music commission. The Lee Berk Award is not part of the Platinum Music Awards official nomination and selection process.

Recipients are honored at a fully staged music variety show. The show celebrates New Mexico’s rich and diverse music industry and showcases some of the state’s top talent.

The 2019 (3rd annual) PMA show took place Friday, August 23, 2019, 7:30pm at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. 2019 PMA honorees are Jim Bonnell, Bert Dalton, Noberta Fresquez, Robert Mirabal, and Cipriano Vigil. The Candyman Strings & Things received the NMMCF’s Lee Berk Award.

Award: The New Mexico Music Commission is founder and owner of the Platinum Music Awards, including all logos, trademarks, copyrights, art, media, and/or other materials created by its foundation or other entities. The commission adopted the Platinum Music Awards show as their annual signature event and primary fundraiser in January 2016.

Show: The commission charged the NM Music Commission Foundation with production of the annual awards show on their behalf. For information about the annual awards show, please visit

General Timeline

February nominations accepted
mid-March nomination deadline
April honorees announced
August awards ceremony & show


Honoree medallion

Performers: solo artists, bands or performance ensembles of any musical genre

Individuals: educators, producers, promoters, conductors, engineers, patrons, managers, etc.

Organizations: businesses, charities, non-profits, foundations, venues, and volunteer or professional organizations

demonstrating lifetime achievement in New Mexico’s music industry.


New Mexico Music Commissioners, Music Commission Foundation members, employees of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, or anyone related to members of these organizations. Posthumous awards are not given.

Here is the late Bonnie Hearne, the late George Adelo, and Bill Hearne at the 2017 Platinum Music Awards dinner and awards ceremony at the Palace Restaurant in Santa Fe prior to the awards show at the Lensic. Bill and Bonnie were honorees at the 2017 Platinum Music Awards. George Adelo served as a beloved Music Commissioner until his passing in October of 2017.

Nomination Requirements

Complete a nomination form, which includes the following four (4) sections:

  1. Nominee and Nominator information
  2. Nominator Questions: a. What is your relationship to the nominee (i.e., fan, friend, family, colleague, etc.)? Explain. b. What are the nominee’s major contributions to New Mexico’s music industry? c. Why do you believe the nominee merits receiving this award?
  3. Nominee’s detailed bio or curriculum vitae
  4. Three (3) samples of the nominee’s work that highlight their contributions to New Mexico’s music industry: official music videos, studio recordings, or live performances; social media presence; notable previous awards, accolades, or distinctions; industry reviews, articles, or publications; letter(s) of support from people familiar with the nominee’s work, such as colleagues, managers, students, mentors, producers, etc.

Stay tuned for release of the 2021 nomination form.

Submit Nomination

Choose one of the following delivery options:

  • Email: preferred
  • Fax: 505-827-6043, Attention: New Mexico Music Commission
  • Mail or in person: New Mexico Music Commission, 407Galisteo St., Suite 270, Santa Fe, NM 87501

All complete nominations remain active for three (3) years. Incomplete or illegible nominations will not be considered.

Here is New Mexico Music Commission Acting Chair Melissa Sanchezawarding PMA medallions to 2019 honorees, Noberta Fresquez, Robert Mirabal, and Cipriano Vigil.

Honoree Recognition

Platinum Music Award honorees are recognized several ways:

  • Press Release and Public Announcement: In the spring, the Music Commission and its Foundation make a formal announcement of the selected honorees through a widely distributed press release and with a public reveal ceremony.  (Honorees do not attend this event, as it would spoil the surprise!) The 2018 “big reveal” was held at The Candyman Strings & Things and the 2019 reveal at Prescott Studios.
  • Medallion Ceremony and Awards Show: Honorees are bestowed medallions and a certificate signed by Governor Lujan Grisham and Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Garcia y Griego in a brief awards ceremony. The ceremony is followed by a spectacular music variety showcase featuring some of New Mexico’s top talent performing for the honorees. During the show, each honoree is celebrated with a short video biopic of their life and career and a live music performance in their honor. The evening is a glowing tribute to the honorees and to the unique and diverse New Mexico music industry. It is quickly becoming one of the top music events of the year and is not to be missed! The awards show was held at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
  • After Party: Honorees, musicians, and production staff are treated to appetizers at an after party at Taberna following the awards show. Chef James Campbell Caruso sponsored and hosted the after party in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
  • Online Hall of Fame: Honorees are inducted into the Music Commission’s online hall of fame with a permanent profile containing their head shot, bio, and PMA tribute video.
  • Facebook Feature: Honorees are featured on the Music Commission’s Facebook page and, if they are an active performer, the commission makes every effort to advertise their upcoming performances.

Primary Contacts

Nominations: contact Thomas Goodrich if you have questions about eligibility, the nomination process, nomination form, required nomination materials, adjudication, the awards timeline, or if you need assistance with your nomination.

Ceremony and Show: contact David Schwartz if you have questions about the medallion ceremony or show or if you would like to volunteer, sponsor, or donate to these events. The Music Commission Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your donations are tax deductible.

Honoree certificate signed by the Governor. Photo ©2017 Melissa Sanchez


Proceeds of the Platinum Music Awards show benefit education initiatives of the New Mexico Music Commission and its Foundation, most notably their Music in Schools and Art2Art programs.

Music in Schools

In the fall of 2017, the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation entered into a cooperation agreement with the Santa Fe Public School system to develop a pilot program for at-risk and under-served schools. The program features professional musicians performing music assemblies at elementary schools. Click here to learn more about the Music in Schools program.


The Music Commission’s Art2Art program promotes New Mexico-based musicians and visual artists in an “eduformance” setting. The artist and musician improvise in a collaborative performance in front of a live audience. Following the performance, the artists are interviewed on stage, delving into their process, inspiration, and technique. The audience is invited to ask questions following the interview. The work of visual art created during the performance is sold, with proceeds funding future Art2Art programming and the host venue. The New Mexico Music Commission provides the venue with a pre-packaged Art2Art program complete with musician, artist, emcee, script, and production notes that is fully modifiable to the venue’s needs. The venue may also suggest their own artists. Art2Art works well in concert settings, community spaces, entertainment at meetings, conferences, or workshops, and with students in an assembly or classroom. The Commission is interested in bringing Art2Art to all parts of New Mexico and would like to feature local musicians and visual artists as well as our Platinum Music Awards honorees, when appropriate. Click here to learn more about the Art2Art program.

Here is a beautiful image from the 2018 Platinum Music Awards Show at the Lensic. Jazz great Doug Lawrence performed a solo music tribute to honoree Tom Guralnick. During the awards show, each honoree is celebrated with a short tribute speech, a 3-minute video biopic, and a live music performance.


Recipients of the New Mexico Music Commission’s Platinum Music Award


Jim Bonnell ~ Alamogordo | Albuquerue

Bert Dalton ~ Santa Fe

Noberta Fresquez ~ Deming | Albuquerque

Robert Mirabal ~ Taos Pueblo

Cipriano Vigil ~ Chamisal | El Rito


Antonia Apodaca ~ Rociada | Las Vegas

Dr. William Clark ~ Las Cruces

Tom Guralnick ~ Albuquerque

Nacha Mendez ~ La Union | Santa Fe

Malcom Yepa ~ Walatowa (Jemez Pueblo)


Arlen Asher ~ Albuquerque

Fernando Cellicion ~ Zuni Pueblo

Bill and Bonnie Hearne ~ Santa Fe

Al Hurricane ~ Dixon | Albuquerque

Dr. Dale E. Kempter ~ Albuquerque

Recipients of the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation’s Lee Berk Award

The Lee Berk Award is selected and conferred by the NMMC Foundation Board. Named after the influential music advocate and educator, Lee Berk, one (1) Berk is awarded annually in conjunction with five (5) Platinum Music Awards.

Lee Berk is the namesake of the Berklee College of Music in Boston and served as its president from 1979 to 2004. Lee was appointed the inaugural chair of the New Mexico Music Commission by Governor Richardson in 2005. Berk subsequently created the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation in 2012 to garner private sector support for music commission initiatives.


The Candyman Strings & Things ~ Santa Fe


Hummingbird Music Camp ~ Jemez Springs


Catherine Oppenheimer ~ Santa Fe

above: Highlights of the 2nd Annual Platinum Music Award show at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, August 23, 2018.

2018 Platinum Music Awards

New Mexico Platinum Music Awards Nominations opening in early 2018“The Platinums” are an evolution of the New Mexico Music Commission’s Platinum Achievement Awards, established in 2013 to celebrate the role that the music industry plays in the cultural life and economic success of New Mexico. Presented annually, the awards honor living musicians and music supporters who have demonstrated lifetime achievement in their musical idiom or have made significant or distinguished contributions to music in New Mexico. The Music Commission manages the Platinum Awards nomination, adjudication, and selection process. The Commission charged the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation with producing the awards ceremony and show. 2017 honorees: Arlen Asher, Fernando Cellicion, Bill and Bonnie Hearne, Al Hurricane, Dr. Dale E. Kempter, and Catherine Oppenheimer – Lee Berk award.for more info:

Posted by New Mexico Music Commission on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Above: Highlights of the 1st annual Platinum Music Awards show at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, July 2017.

Platinum Achievement Awards {precursor to the Platinum Music Awards}


Jerry Lopez (right) recipient of the 2015 Platinum Achievement Award. Jerry was honored at the Fanta Se Fest in DeVargas Park, sponsored by Creative Santa Fe. Pictured with Jerry (left to right) Fred Sandoval – National Latino Behavioral Health Association (Fred nominated Jerry for the award), the late George Adelo – Music Commissioner, David Schwartz – Music Commission Foundation President, and Joy Gutierrez – retired Music Commissioner.


  • “Bumblebee” Bob Weil ~ Santa Fe
  • Herb Jeffries


  • Kenneth Broad ~ Portales | Clovis

Photo Credit

All photos ©2017-2019 Daniel Quat Photography unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the Platinum Music Awards ceremony and show


No copyright is claimed in the above creative examples and to the extent that material may appear to be infringed, the New Mexico Music Commission asserts that such alleged infringement is permissible under fair use principles in U.S. copyright laws. If you believe these materials have been used in an unauthorized manner, please contact us.