Tammy Kernodle, professor of musicology, performing at Hall Auditorium (photos by Scott Kissell)
Tammy Kernodle, professor of musicology, performing at Hall Auditorium (photos by Scott Kissell)

Tammy Kernodle awarded Benjamin Harrison Medallion

By Susan Meikle, university news and communications


Tammy Kernodle

Tammy Kernodle, professor of musicology and affiliate faculty of American studies, black world studies and women, gender and sexuality studies, has been awarded Miami University's prestigious Benjamin Harrison Medallion.

The Benjamin Harrison Medallion Award is one of the most significant recognitions Miami offers faculty for contributions attesting to qualities of teaching, research and/or service. She will be honored at the University Awards Reception 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, in Marcum Conference Center.

The award is named for Benjamin Harrison, the 1852 Miami graduate and 23rd president of the United States, serving from 1889-1893.

“The Benjamin Harrison Medallion has the inscription of ‘For Outstanding Contribution to the Education of the Nation,’ and it is clear that Tammy's exemplary career as one of the world's leading scholars in music history lives up to those words and exceeds them considerably,” nominators said. 

Another nominator stated, ”Frankly, I can think of few other scholars in the United States more worthy of such an award.”



Kernodle consulted for the National Museum of African American History and Culture's premiere exhibition.

Kernodle is widely considered a giant in several related fields, one nominator said. “That in itself is rare since most academics rarely achieve acclaim in one narrow realm. Her work in the intersection of jazz, gospel and freedom songs, in the influence and impact of (particularly female) African-American musicians, the civil rights movement, and women’s studies is extraordinary and breathtaking in its scope.”

She has become “THE scholar to consult when curating African American music, particularly women's contributions,” another nominator said.

Her forthcoming book on gender, music and the Civil Rights Movement “is going to be seen as a landmark study, rewriting many accepted truisms,” another musicologist noted.

Kernodle served as a consultant for the Smithsonian’s recently opened National Museum of African American History & Culture’s (NMAAHC) music division and worked on their premiere exhibit, “Musical Crossroads.”  Her close involvement with the music portions of the collection “means that she has had direct involvement with how the story of African-American music in the United States is being taught to the thousands of people who pass through the museum on a daily basis,” a nominator said.

Related to her time with the NMAAHC is her work on the forthcoming Smithsonian Institute Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap, another instance of Kernodle “helping to guide a genre-defining creation,” the nominator said.


Kernodle's lecture reached a popular audience at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum last fall.

Kernodle has also served as a consultant to National Public Radio on programs highlighting the work of Nina Simone and the Music of the Civil Rights Movement and on the documentary film "Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band," which premiered on PBS.

Recently she served as the scholarly consultant and contributor for “The Dvorak Statement” for BBC Radio.

Her monograph, Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams, was named one of the Best Jazz Books of the Year in 2004 as mentioned in a New York Times review.

She was one of three editors on the Encyclopedia of African American Music, and a senior editor on the major revision of the Grove Dictionary of American Music, both significant and influential reference works.

One of her most notable, recent honors in the field has been to present at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for the American Musicological Lecture Series. Only the upper echelon of musicologists is asked to apply and participate in this series to share scholarship with an audience that extends beyond the academy, a nominator said.



Kernodle is the new president of SAM.

Kernodle is a leader in her profession’s most distinguished organizations. Last month she was elected for a three-year term as president of the Society for American Music, the primary professional organization for the study of music in the Americas.

She serves as the media editor for the Jazz Perspectives Journal. She is currently the associate editor for the Black Music Research Journal, and becomes the editor later this year.

She serves on the editorial board of the journal Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, Women, Gender and Families of Color. Previously she served on the editorial board for the journals Black Music Research Journal, Journal of the Society of American Music and the American Music Society for American Music.



A quintessential performer (vocalist and pianist, above), scholar and teacher (in classroom, below).

Kernodle is the quintessential performer/scholar, a gift that she has been generous enough to share with students and colleagues for many years, a nominator said.

Her performance of “She Sang Freedom,” a multimedia presentation spotlighting the influence of African- American women on the Civil Rights movement, which she composed and scored, has been performed in numerous venues.

“Her presentations are legendary — and her lectures, often coupled with her piano-playing, are in great demand across the country," according to a nominator.


Kernodle has fostered innovative curriculum in the field of musicology and music history at Miami, her internal nominators said. She has created new courses for the music department and American studies program, including “Enter the Diva: American Women in Music 1900 to Present,” “Roots of Black Music: Blues, Gospel and Early R & B,” and “History of Hip Hop Culture,” which celebrate difference in the arts and probe questions of diversity relevant to today’s political and cultural climate.

tammy-kernodle-classroom“In all of her courses she endorses a rigorous study of music, substantiated by contemporary scholarship. The students are held accountable and they love it, and her,” a colleague said. “She has established a reputation for an academic study of music that has encouraged student enrollment in our department.”

She was honored for her teaching with Miami’s Effective Educator Award in 2014.

The Benjamin Harrison award “sounds like a worthy form of recognition for the inestimable impact (Kernodle) has had on scholars, students and laypeople in musicology and the arts the world over,” another nominator said. “I cannot imagine a better way for the university to acknowledge her many contributions to the scholarly and local community than with the Benjamin Harrison Medallion.”