Platinum Music Awards



2017 Honorees
Arlen Asher
Fernando Cellicion
Bill & Bonnie Hearne
Al Hurricane
Dr. Dale Kempter
Catherine Oppenheimer
2018 Honorees
Antonia Apodaca
Dr. William Clark
Tom Guralnick
Nacha Mendez
Malcom Yepa
Hummingbird Music Camp

Antonia Apodaca, now in her 80th year of performing, has become an icon in the history of New Mexican folk music. She is musician and songwriter known for her performances of traditional New Mexico music. Her instruments are accordion and guitar, along with her passionate voice and treasure chest of traditional music.

2018 Honoree.

Arlen Asher, a multi-woodwind maestro, 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. Asher remains active as a performer while hosting “The Jazz Experience” on KSFR, Santa Fe Public Radio station. 2017 Honoree.

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. 

2017 Honoree.

Dr. William Clark was director of bands at New Mexico State University (NMSU) from 1985 to 1994 and then became chair of the NMSU Music Department where he is credited with doubling the number of music majors to more than 200 during his 11 years. Clark founded the Mesilla Valley Concert Band in 1986 and has served as conductor and music director for the past 30 years. The band has presented more than 220 free concerts to over 150,000 central and southern New Mexico residents. 2018 Honoree.

Tom Guralnick has been an arts presenter and performing musician for more than 40 years. He has been a force of nature bringing more than 100 jazz concert events annually to New Mexico for nearly 30 years as the Founder and Executive Director of the Outpost. Outpost offers a uniquely eclectic mix of jazz, experimental, folk & roots, and international music in its own intimate and elegant performance space as well as in larger venues in the community. Outpost also hosts extensive educational programs and youth performance opportunities. 

2018 Honoree.

Bill and Bonnie Hearne, Texas transplants, 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 hismusic. 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. 2017 Honorees.

Alberto Nelson “Al Hurricane” Sanchez was 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 performed alongside Fats Domino, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Clanton, and Chubby Checker. 2017 Honoree.

Dr. Dale Kempter was one of the Southwest’s most outstanding and beloved music educators and conductors. 

He was at the helm of the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program (AYSP) for more than 50 years, and continued 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 and the New Mexico Governor’s Arts Award in 2002. 2017 Honoree.

Nacha Mendez is pioneering the genre of World Latin music, drawing from the influences of her youth combined with the formal training she received during her world travels. Nacha grew up as Marghreta Cordero in the tiny border town of La Union, in southern New Mexico, where she began singing and playing the guitar at an early age. She learned traditional Ranchera Cancion from her grandmother and performed in border towns near El Paso with her cousins the Black Brothers. 2018 Honoree.

Malcom Yepa From Walatowa (Jemez Pueblo), Malcom Yepa’s contribution to New Mexico’s music industry is prodigious and unique. Malcom is an accomplished musician as a singer, drummer and composer both in Native American Pueblo and Powwow styles. Malcom was raised in the traditional ways of his ancestors - fluent in his Native language Towa - and is a paraprofessional educator. 2018 Honoree.


The Hummingbird Music Camp was founded in 1959 by the legendary Kenneth Lloyd and Wanda Higgins. The camp gives children ages 8 through 14 an opportunity to experience band, guitar, orchestra, piano, and voice with musical direction provided for all levels of players. Today, the camp is operated by Higgins children Les, Sally, and Teena. 2018 Honoree.

Catherine Oppenheimer, a former professional dancer with the New York City Ballet, 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. 2017 Honoree


Be the first to know about upcoming events, special offers and everything that has to do with the Platinum Music Awards.



© 2019 New Mexico Platinum Music Awards.

All rights reserved.