Electrical engineering student performs with Ronnie Dunn

Writer: Lorena Sánchez

Most people only dream of performing with a country music legend but one New Mexico State University engineering student is getting an opportunity to do just that.

Emily Maestas and Dorothy Lanphere

Emily Maestas (left) and Dorothy Lanphere (right), backstage prior to the 2011 Country Radio Seminar (CRS) Sony Music Luncheon. Photo courtesy of Josepha Cheong, 2011

As part of the all-female mariachi group Mariachi Buena Ventura based out of Santa Fe, Dorothy Lanphere, electrical engineering master’s candidate, along with the rest of the group will be featured in a music video with Ronnie Dunn. (Watch the Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW3rOXiIVCY)

“He called us was because he was making a music video for the song How Far to Waco from his upcoming solo album. The video was filmed in Santa Fe this past June. He found our group on the Internet and hired us to be in the video,” Lanphere said.

When the group was hired for the video shoot they had no idea who they would be performing with.

“The person who hired us just gave us the song to listen to and learn and gave us a time and location to show up for the video. We guessed it was Brooks and Dunn or George Strait by the sound of the voice but we were pleasantly surprised to find out it was Ronnie Dunn,” she said

The group first met Dunn at the shoot for the video. After the shoot the mariachi group performed for Dunn and the video crew.

Ronnie Dunn and crew

Ronnie Dunn and Mariachi Buena Ventura filming the music video in Santa Fe. Photo courtesy of Rosie Lanphere, 2010.

“I guess he liked it because he filmed it on his camera phone”! Lanphere exclaimed.

Mariachi Buena Ventura will continue with their high profile successes next year at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The group was chosen to accompany the dance group Baila! Baila! while they perform for the festivities. The group has also performed for President Barack Obama, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and former U.S. Senator John Edwards.

The group’s music video shoot was in June 2010, but it wasn’t until February of this year that Lanphere and her mother Emily Maestas found out that they would be performing with Dunn in two major performances, one in Nashville on March 3, and another in Las Vegas on April 2, for his introduction as a solo artist. The two were chosen because they were the only trumpet players in the group and Dunn wanted trumpets in the live performances.

“It was a huge change to go from doing homework all day Monday, being flown out Tuesday and treated like a rock star on Thursday, then going back to homework, a quiet lab and deadlines by Friday. Playing in Nashville was like being in another world. We got to mingle with all the band members (most of whom were the band for Brooks and Dunn) and other stars backstage and everyone was really nice and down to Earth. It was probably the funnest thing I have ever done,” she said.

Lanphere was already a big fan of Brooks and Dunn, but what made it extra special was the fact that she got to share the experience with her mother.

“We are so excited to have this opportunity.  Every time we think about it we get the butterflies and just can’t believe it. It is always nice to get away with your mom and just have some mother-daughter time, but this was the ultimate mother-daughter time. We are a lot alike and get along really well, so the whole experience was just perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Lanphere said.

Since the age of four Lanphere has been playing the trumpet and continued even in college where she majored in music for three years at NMSU. Growing up her biggest musical influence was her mother who not only plays the trumpet but sings, plays the guitar, piano and violin.

“I have been listening to her since before I was born and have always hoped that I could be as good as she is someday,” she said.

Since her first year in college, Lanphere has played in various mariachi groups and continues to pursue her passion out of love for the music.

“I like mariachi music because it is upbeat, happy music, I get to work on my Spanish and I get to play high, fast and loud,” she explained.

But Lanphere is more than an accomplished musician.  She is also an excellent student and leader. In May 2009, Lanphere was honored by the College of Engineering as Outstanding Senior when she received her bachelor’s degree in engineering technology: electronics and computer with in a concentration in renewable energy technologies and a minor in music performance. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s in electrical engineering with a concentration in power as part of the Electric Utility Management Program. After this semester, she needs one more class and a technical report to complete her degree.

Lanphere is currently the web site designer for NMSU Engineers without Borders and also serves on the fundraising committee for the student organization that she founded in spring 2007. Since then the group has built a bridge in Las Boquillas and a well in Ruiz De Ancones, both in Chihuahua, Mexico. She will accompany the group in early May to build a pedestrian bridge in Nicaragua.

In the future Lanphere hopes to continue grow as a musician and get a job with her degree working with renewable energy. She will also keep the possibility of returning to school to get her doctorate and become a professor.

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