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Electrical engineering student performs with Ronnie Dunn

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



Ronnie Dunn and Mariachi Buena Ventura filming their music video in Santa Fe, N.M. (Photo courtesy Rosie Lanphere)

Dorothy Lanphere, a master's candidate in NMSU's Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is a member of Santa Fe, N.M.'s Mariachi Buena Ventura, an all-female mariachi group that will be featured in an upcoming music video by country music superstar Ronnie Dunn.

"He [Dunn] called us 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 with whom they would be performing.

"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," Lanphere said.

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

"I guess he liked it because he filmed it on his camera phone," Lanphere said.

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 also has performed for President Barack Obama, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and former U.S. Senator John Edwards.

In February Lanphere and her mother and band-mate, Emily Maestas, were chosen to perform with Dunn in two major performances introducing him as a solo artist, March 3 in Nashville, Tenn. and April 2 in Las Vegas. 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," Lanphere said. "Playing in Nashville was like being in another world. We got to mingle with all the band members and other stars backstage and everyone was really nice and down to Earth. It was probably the most fun thing I have ever done."

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

"We were so excited to have this opportunity. Every time we think about it we get the butterflies and just can't believe it," Lanphere said. "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 has been playing the trumpet since she was four years old, and continued to play in college at NMSU, where she majored in music for three years. Growing up, her biggest musical influence was her mother, who also sings and plays 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 for 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 also is 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 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.

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

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