Vida Chenoweth Prize

The Vida Chenoweth Student Paper Prize is awarded annually to the best student paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology Southern Plains Chapter. Any student who presents a formal paper in person at the SEM-SP Annual Meeting, and who is a member of SEM, is eligible. The prize is named in recognition of Dr. Vida Chenoweth, a performer and ethnomusicologist currently living in Oklahoma.

About Dr. Chenoweth

Vida Chenoweth began performing on the marimba at age fourteen. Rather than venturing immediately into a life as a professional performer, she chose to pursue higher education. Dr. Chenoweth completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University and her graduate study in music theory and percussion at the American Conservatory in Chicago, while also undertaking successive concert tours. She considers her November 1953 performance at the Chicago Art Institute to be her formal debut as a classical marimbist. She has played concerts at Town Hall, Carnegie Hall, and across Europe. Frustrated by a lack of research on her instrument, Dr. Chenoweth applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1957 to begin a historical research on the marimba. She conducted field research in Guatemala, where she began her foray into ethnomusicology.

A career-changing accident – a burned hand just after signing a contract with Epic Records – led Dr. Chenoweth to more seriously pursue a new hybrid career combining performance, linguistics, anthropology, and ethnomusicology. Dr. Chenoweth spent fourteen years in Papua New Guinea conducting research. Upon her return, she was hired as Professor of Ethnomusicology at Wheaton College, where she taught for fifteen years, continuing to conduct fieldwork each year. She also initiated a program at the college where qualified students could accompany her as ethnomusicology interns. In 1993, Dr. Chenoweth retired from Wheaton to devote more time to writing and research.

Dr. Chenoweth’s books include:

The Marimbas of Guatemala (1964)
Melodic Perception and Analysis (1972)
Music of the Usarufas (1974)
Musical Instruments of Papua New Guinea (1976)
The Usarufas and Their Music (1979)
Music for the Eastern Highlands: a music primer (1980)
Sing-Sing: communal singing and dancing of New Guinea peoples (2000)


  • 2019: Andy Normann, (UT Austin), “KzasobaLIT”: South African Hip-Hop in the ‘Born Free’ Moment”
  • 2018: Chia-Hao Hsu (UT Austin) “Sounding Paiwan: Institutionalization and Heritage-Making of Paiwan Lalingedan and Pakulalu in Contemporary Taiwan”
  • 2017 (No award recipient)
  • 2016: Yuxin Mei (UNT) “Negotiating with Sound: The Living Sound Niche Created by the Chinese Immigrants in Plano-Dallas Area”
  • 2015: Myranda Harris (UT Austin) “Collaborations or Collisions?: Narratives of Freedom and Resistance in Early Indo-Jazz Improvisations”
  • 2014: Ania Kalashnikova (TAMU): “Noize MC: Mediatize Political Protest in Contemporary Russia”
  • 2013: Lee Chambers (Texas Tech): “Offenbach and the Voices of Limpopo: Vocal and Visual Narratives in a ‘Land of Contrasts'”
  • 2012: Katrena Henry (UT Pan-Am): “La Joya ISD Fine Arts: Teaching Mexican Identity through Music and Dance”
  • 2011: Andrés Amado (UT Austin): “The Fox Trot in Guatemala: Cosmopolitan Nationalism among Ladinos”
  • 2010: Christina Hough (UT Austin): “Obscured Hybridity: The Kurdishness of Turkish Folk Music”
  • 2009: Krista Kataneva (UT Austin): “Locating the ‘Black’ in Black Music: A Case for an Alternative Understanding”



Any student who presents, in person, a formal paper at the SEMSP Annual Meeting shall be eligible for the prize. A student shall be defined as a person pursuing an active course of studies in a degree program. This will include persons who are engaged in writing the doctoral dissertation, but not those who are teaching full time while doing so. Applicants for the Student Prize must be members of SEM.


The award will consist of a cash prize of $150 (one hundred and fifty dollars). The winner will be notified and will be recognized publicly at the next Annual Meeting of the Chapter, in an announcement in the SEM Newsletter, and at the business meeting at the annual conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology. The recipient’s name will also be included in the Chapter Report. Unsuccessful applicants for the Student Prize will also be notified of the status of the committee’s decision.


The Student Prize Committee shall be chaired by the Vice-President of the SEMSP and shall include two additional faculty appointed by the President.


  1. Candidates for the Student Prize are asked to indicate on the abstract form that they wish to have their papers considered for the prize. If this is not done, candidates may write to the Program Chair two weeks before the Meeting indicating that they wish to have their papers considered.
  2. Each candidate for the Student Prize should attend the business meeting at the conference for instructions on sending his or her paper to the newly-elected Vice President. The papers are to be of delivery length, written using a 12-point font, black ink, and may not exceed 12 pages, double-spaced.
  3. The Student Prize Committee decides upon a winner within four weeks of the Annual Meeting.
  4. The Prize may be withheld, depending on the judgment of the Committee.