Ethel Norris Haughton is a native of Petersburg, Virginia. From childhood through high school, she studied music with various members of the music faculty at Virginia State. She earned the Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy from East Carolina University. She was inducted in the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society while at East Carolina. She earned the Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in Music History from The Ohio State University. The title of her dissertation is Music in the Black and White Communities in Petersburg, Virginia: 1865-1900.
Her primary interests are American Music and African American Music. She also has a special interest in the musical legacy of HBCUs. She has presented papers and written articles on topics in these various areas. She holds memberships in the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and the College Music Society. She joined the VSU music faculty in August 1994. Since that time she has taught Music History, Music Fundamentals, Class Piano, and Blacks in American Music. At VSU, she is an active member of the Honor Council. She has served and continues to serve the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in various capacities, including writing program notes for over thirty years.