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Marcia Herndon Prize (Gender and Sexualities Section)
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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 lesbian priests.

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 occasion.

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 information)

Contact: Todd Rosendahl
Email: herndonaward2014@gmail.com
Website: http://gstsem.pbwiki.com/Marcia-Herndon-Award 




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)


David Kaminsky. "Gender and Sexuality in the Polska: Swedish Couple Dancing and the Challenge of Egalitarian Flirtation." Ethnomusicology Forum 20(2): 123-152 (2011)


Christina Sunardi. "Negotiating Authority and Articulating Gender: Performer Interaction in Malang, East Java." Ethnomusicology 55(1):31-54 (2011)


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 Stones."


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."

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