By Stacy Keith
Lubbock is known for its wealth of great performers. Lepidoptera founder Jennifer Hanners Gutierrez is doing it right – talent, professionalism and a heart for people, she is not typical in any way. A musician and singer from childhood, Gutierrez is taking a new and impactful approach to her chosen genre of music through the power of filmmaking. Lepidoptera is an order of insects that includes butterflies. After visiting with Gutierrez, the famous Muhammed Ali quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” comes to mind. Her style is visually stunning, but the lyrics of her songs pack an emotional punch on hard and heavy topics.
Gutierrez grew up around music and her parents didn’t discourage her creativity but did encourage her to pursue a professional degree knowing that the road for a professional musician wasn’t an easy one. Through 1960 and 1961, her father (Gerald Hanners) was lead guitarist for the original Red Steagall band. Steagall is now a part of the West Texas Music Hall of Fame. Hanners’ band, “The Whirlwinds,” recorded at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, NM, toured with Roy Orbison, and found success with singles such as “Angel Love.” In fact, Hanners’ friend and bandmate, Bill Dees, excelled in songwriting, co-writing the song “Pretty Woman” with Roy Orbison.
Music was a central part of Gutierrez’s life, but she made the choice to pursue higher-level education. She holds a PhD in Speech-Language Pathology and works with the UMC Health System treating patients in acute care and with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine, conducting research and writing. As we talked, she shared that she wants her life and the work she does to be a legacy in medicine as well as her music.
Her career has allowed her to support producing the music that she loves. In addition, her prior training in aspects of business and leadership and insights from attorney Sarah Simpson and friend Patrick Collins facilitated the development of her music company Arise Broken Wing, LLC and her publishing company Red Apple Core Publishing, LLC. The logo created for Gutierrez’s music by Collins displays a butterfly-beautiful on one side and broken on the other. Gutierrez chose the name Lepidoptera for her music to exemplify not only beauty, but the process of becoming-which also involves pain and brokenness.
Lepidoptera’s music has a message which lifts people up who are experiencing pain in their lives. Her breathtaking videos dramatically share the story of her songs and bring the music to life. Through collaborations with like-minded artists such as Karyn Bailey and Daniel Mauricio of Dork Productions, hip hop artist Booga Bradshaw, singer Gabriella Ghandour (Gabi Marii), talented teen Odessy Anderson, audio producers Mark Murray (Borgbilly) and Alan Crossland (Route 1, Acuff Studios), actors, dancers and makeup artists, Gutierrez’s videos are more of a short film than a typical music video.
Gutierrez emphasized the visual imagery of her videos is important; it is a goal to make people feel something through her music. The energy and artistry of her videos increase her music’s power. In creating these stunning pieces, she learns from and works with brilliant performing artists like Hannah Jackson who also want to make an impact in the world and lift others with an inspiring message of love and hope. Gutierrez emphasized the importance of the videography and the balance between the cinematic power and the music.
This introverted artist feels more comfortable in front of a lens than in front of an audience but is excited about future possibilities for both. Gutierrez’s vision for Lepidoptera is different. Ultimately, Gutierrez would love to hear her original songs on Broadway, on the big (or small) screen or performed by known and celebrated singers. Gutierrez has won numerous awards. The song “Onward, Arise with Love” has been recognized with the Best Song Award from the Florence Film Awards (2022) and the accompanying music video has won 15 awards, including Semi-Finalist in the Berlin International Art Film Festival (2022) and an Award Winner in the Madras Independent Film Festival (2021). Her most recent release is “Waltz of the Strong.” Both of these musical offerings may be viewed through her website and social media.
She has more in store – more work to leave us thinking and feeling. Keep an eye out for Lepidoptera on her website at https://www.lepidopteramusic.com/music and on social media: https://www.facebook.com/lepidopteramusic or https://www.instagram.com/lepidoptera_music/