Marcia Herndon (October 1, 1941 - May 19, 1997)
Marcia Herndon’s scholarship helped shape the field of ethnomusicology,
especially in the areas of gender issues, performance ethnography, and Native
American studies. Music, Gender, and Culture (1990), a volume she co-edited
with Suzanne Zeigler, was a breakthrough compilation of scholars’ focus on
gender and its relationship to music. Her chapter in that volume titled
"Biology and Culture: Music, Gender, Power, and Ambiguity” was one of the first
articles to define gender—rather than sex—in relation to music. In 1991,
Herndon also guest-edited a volume of The World of Music, the Journal for the
International Institute for Traditional Music, entitled Women in Music and
Music Research. She wrote or co-edited six books, all which were important
works for the field of ethnomusicology. Of particular note are Music As Culture
(1979) and Field Manual for Ethnomusicology (1983) co-edited with Norma McLeod.
From 1987 until the time of her death, Herndon co-chaired the Music and Gender
Study Group of the International Council for Traditional Music. In this
capacity she spearheaded research and publications that brought ethnomusicology
into a burgeoning interdisciplinary discussion on the cultural construction of
gender and on musical performance as dramatized beliefs about ourselves and
others. The latest compilation of papers from one of the meetings is Music and
Gender, Pirkko Moisala and Beverley Diamond, Eds., (2000). The editors chose
Herndon’s paper "The Place of Gender within complex, Dynamic, Musical Systems”
as the Epilogue to the book, because, once again, Marcia challenged the field
of ethnomusicology to "examine complex and dynamic approaches that might inform
research on music and gender” (352).
Marcia was born in Canton, North Carolina, near the Cherokee community of her
grandparents. According to Carolina Robertson, "her career in music began at
Newcomb College in New Orleans, where she studied piano, organ, and voice.
After completing an M.A. in German she pursued a Ph.D. in
Anthropology/Ethnomusicology at Tulane University. Under the tutelage of Norma
McLeod she conducted dissertation research on Maltese music, religion, and
politics. Her study of Maltese singing was the basis for "Analysis: The Herding
of Sacred Cows?” (Ethnomusicology 1974), a pivotal and hotly debated article in
the discipline.” From 1971 to 1978 she taught at the University of Texas at
Austin and then went to teach at the University of California at Berkeley for
seven years. She was a Professor of Music in the Division of Musicology and
Ethnomusicology in the School of Music at the University of Maryland and an
affiliate of the Women’s Studies Department since 1990.
Before joining the University of Maryland faculty in 1990, Herndon directed the
Music Research Institute with Cynthia Kimberlin in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Inspired to create a venue for independent scholars, she founded the Institute
in 1984, which became a home for cutting-edge ethnomusicological research that
addressed the censorship of popular music texts, the impact of amplified sound
on hearing, the demise of American community orchestras, and other visions of
contemporary musical experience that now seem prophetic. She supported her
research through grants from the Chevron Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation,
the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Over the
years, she was awarded numerous fellowships and awards including a Guggenheim,
a Mellon Lectureship, and a Murphy Institute Fellowship.
Marcia had a wide breadth of interests and she spoke seven languages. She was
an authority on Eastern Band Cherokee music and on the performance traditions
of indigenous peoples of North America; she trained as a Cherokee healer. Her
major contributions in this area were Native American Music (1980) and "The
Cherokee Ballgame Cycle: An Ethnomusicologist’s Viewpoint” (Ethnomusicology
1971). Herndon was also the Metropolitan (head bishop) of the Ecumenical
Catholic Church of America, and was especially dedicated to ordaining gay and
Marcia Herndon died peacefully in the early hours of May 19, 1997. She had
struggled courageously with both lupus and breast cancer. Yet until the last
day, her optimism for healing and her determination to live life fully, despite
pain, were an inspiration to her students and colleagues. Marcia’s students,
life partner Billye Talmadge and friend and colleague, Dr. Carolina Robertson
held a gathering to honor her life and mourn her passing shortly after her
death. They shared stories and in every story, Marcia’s dedication to her
students’ work emerged as a theme.
Six months before her death Herndon hosted the international congress of the
Music and Gender Study Group which focused its meetings in College Park on
"Gender and the Musics of Death.” According to Carolina Robertson, "Djimo
Kouyate, Senegalese griot and director of the University of Maryland African
music ensemble, composed a praise song to honor her during the last concert of
the conference. In the chorus of his biographical text Kouyate sang, ‘Marcia
Herndon, you are a great elephant, and you carry a great weight upon your
shoulders.’ Indeed she did.”
(compiled by Boden Sandstrom from "Late music professor remembered for her
remarkable life” by Carolina Robertson, Diamondback (Sept. 19, 1997),
"Remembering Marcia Herndon” Bridging: Newsletter of Women’s Studies (Fall,
1997), and www.marciaherndon.html (November 7, 2005))
Purpose: The award has been created to honor exceptional
ethnomusicological work in gender and sexuality including, but not limited to,
works that focus upon lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirited, homosexual,
transgendered and multiple gender issues and communities. The winning
submission will exemplify the highest qualities of originality, interpretation,
theory, and communication.
Eligibility: Open to any SEM member. Submitted projects should
have been completed during the two preceding calendar years (for example, in
order to be eligible for nomination by April 1, 2007, the work should have been
published/presented between January 1, 2005 and December 30, 2006). Works will
be accepted from any country and in any language (if a non-English work,
contact the prize committee for requirements about providing an English
translation or abstract). Eligible "work" includes a published
article, book, edition, annotated translation, conference paper, or other
scholarly product (such as film, CD, website) accepted by the award committee.
Individuals may be nominated for and receive the award on more than one
Prize: The certificate and award of $150 will be conferred
at the annual meeting of the GST.
Regularity: Annually. The prize may be withheld by the
decision of the committee.
Administration: The Marcia Herndon Award Committee shall be
comprised of three or four members of the Gender and Sexualities Taskforce,
each of whom will serve a two- year term, on a rotating basis. New members will
be chosen at the annual business meeting of the section or by a mail-in vote.
The most recent recipient of the Prize will be invited to serve on the next
year’s Award committee for the period of one year.
Application Process: Nominations should include the
individual’s name, a description of the work, and a statement to the effect
that the work was completed during the previous two academic years. In the case
of articles, books, and editions, by "completion” is meant the work’s
publication or commitment to publish from an editor. A "completed” paper would
entail its delivery at a conference or an academic forum. The committee will
contact the nominee for additional materials as needed. Self-nominations should
also include a copy of all or part of the work (if longer than an article) to
be considered and a c.v. The committee will return copies of works if
requested. Nominations, with five sets of application materials, should be
postmarked by April 1 and sent to the chair of the Gender and Sexualities
Taskforce Award Committee.
Application Deadline: April 1.
Gender and Sexualities Taskforce website
Send Application To: Apply to the Chair of the Gender and
Sexualities Taskforce Award Committee (contact the section chair for more
Contact: Todd Rosendahl
Sarah Hankins. "Size and Shape are Approximate, and
Subject to Change: Queer Arousal and Musical Meaning." Paper presented
at the 57th Annual Meeting of SEM in New Orleans, LA (2012)2012
David Kaminsky. "Gender and Sexuality in the Polska: Swedish Couple Dancing and the Challenge of Egalitarian Flirtation." Ethnomusicology Forum 20(2): 123-152 (2011)2011
Christina Sunardi. "Negotiating Authority and Articulating Gender: Performer Interaction in Malang, East Java." Ethnomusicology 55(1):31-54 (2011)2010
Hutchinson, Sydney. "Becoming
the Tiguera: The Female Accordionist in Dominican Meringue Tipico."
World of Music. 50(3):37-56, 2008.
Doktor, Stephanie. "Covering
the Track and (Un)covering Gender: PJ Harvey, Bjork, and the Rolling
Spiller, Henry. 'To Make Ourselves Complete': Stowitts, Javanese Theatre, and American Masculinities.
Downing, Sonja. "Embodied
Learning of Music and Gender in Balinese Children's Gamelans."