Melissa A. Weber, also known as DJ Soul Sister, was officially named curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive, the leading research center for the study of New Orleans jazz and related musical genres. The archive is part of the Special Collections division of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Weber was previously program manager of the Newcomb-Tulane College Office of Academic Programs.
With a professional life centered around music and education, Weber’s appointment is no surprise. The Tulane musicology master’s student has presented papers at numerous academic conferences, including the International Association for the Study of Popular Music-U.S. Annual Conference, the Museum of Pop Culture Conference and the National Council for Black Studies. Likewise, Weber has juggled a wide range of responsibilities during her nearly 10 years with Newcomb-Tulane College, from managing the undergraduate research grant-funding program to producing the annual Lagniappe Series concert featuring renowned jazz musician Ellis Marsalis.
“I am beyond thrilled to lead the next exciting phase in the Hogan Jazz Archive’s history. In this capacity, I realize that I continue a rich legacy of researching, archiving and sharing the important stories of jazz and related music genres of the New Orleans area, not to mention assisting users and researchers from the Tulane community, our local community and around the world,” Weber said. “Joining the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library’s team in this way is an honor and privilege that I do not take lightly, and I so look forward to making positive contributions to the study of and education on the music, musicians, and culture of New Orleans and its surrounding region.”
In her spare time, Weber is known as one of the longest-running live DJ artists in her native New Orleans. She hosts a nearly 25-year-old radio show called “Soul Power” on WWOZ-FM, on which she spins vinyl from her expansive collection of 1970s and ’80s rare groove funk, soul, and R&B. She also gives talks and presents film screenings throughout the city.
Although Weber has received a great deal of recognition as DJ Soul Sister, she admits she doesn’t do it for the fame. To her, being a DJ artist is simply another way to educate others about the cultural and historical impact of music.
“Everything I do is always related to educating others about music and having music educate us about the world,” said Weber.
As curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive, Weber will do just that. Her responsibilities will include developing partnerships across Tulane University and the broader research community, securing new historical pieces to increase the archive’s holdings, instructing students on how to use the archive to find primary sources, and supporting division outreach efforts by contributing to exhibitions and other programming.
Despite the task of taking on a new position, Weber is ready to begin, excited to explore and expand the archive’s current collection.
“I would love to see the entire story of New Orleans music come up to the present, so that we can continue that story of music and culture,” she continued. “Because the story has not ended. It has continued, and it is happening right now.”
The Hogan Jazz Archive is located in the Special Collections Reading Room, Jones Hall 202. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.