Role Model

Melissa A. Weber

Curator, Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music, Tulane University Special Collections

Melissa A. Weber’s life mission is to share music, whether through her varied activities as a performer, event planner, educator, writer, researcher, or historian. She is especially dedicated to her areas of interest and expertise, which include the music and culture of her native New Orleans, 20th century Black American popular music, and archives.

In her professional life, she serves as curator of the Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, a unit of Tulane University Special Collections with Tulane University Libraries. As an adjunct professor, she teaches History of Urban Music at Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Music and Media. 

As an artist-scholar and music historian, Weber’s writing can be found in a number of music journalism sources, and she has presented papers at meetings for the American Musicological Society, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, National Council for Black Studies, Society for Ethnomusicology, and the Pop Conference, among others. 

In her personal life, Weber volunteers with local music and arts nonprofits, such as French Quarter Festivals, Inc., where she serves on the Board of Directors. Her most well-known volunteer role is with community radio WWOZ FM New Orleans, where she has hosted her “Soul Power with Soul Sister” show for over 25 years featuring music from her personal vinyl collection, which contains over 10,000 recordings that she has amassed since childhood. 

As a live DJ artist, under the moniker DJ Soul Sister, she has organized and promoted her own parties for the New Orleans community since the late 1990s, and has played with everyone from Questlove to George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. As such, she is the first DJ to receive a prestigious Big Easy Entertainment Award, which she won twice. She has performed everywhere from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival to Boiler Room, and was the first New Orleans artist to play Essence Music Festival’s main stage. She also currently hosts a monthly program, First Fridays with Soul Sister, on WRTI FM Philadelphia. 

Weber earned her B.A. in communications and English writing from the University of New Orleans, and her M.A. work in musicology is in progress at Tulane University.