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DJ Soul Sister Joins Loyola University New Orleans Faculty

By Loyola University on Thu, 09/10/2020 - 09:31

Music scholar, broadcaster and performer Melissa A. Weber will teach the history of urban music in Loyola’s acclaimed College of Music and Media

(New Orleans - September 10, 2020) – Popular music scholar Melissa A. Weber, also known to many as award-winning performer and broadcaster DJ Soul Sister, joins Loyola University faculty this fall to teach “History of Urban Music,” a new course offered in the university’s Urban and Electronic Music Production undergraduate degree program. Celebrated worldwide as a DJ artist and vinyl collector, Professor Weber has a storied 25-year career as a show host and broadcaster for WWOZ-FM, an epicenter of New Orleans’ music and culture. She is the host and founder of the popular “Soul Power,” the longest-running rare groove radio show in the United States.

To Loyola, Professor Weber brings a storied history as a broadcaster, as an artist who has performed locally and overseas, and as a researcher who has translated her love of learning about music into writing and presenting work in both scholarly and journalist arenas. Her skills, knowledge of music, and immersive talent have established her as a highly sought-after opinion leader and industry expert.

“We are thoroughly elated that Melissa will be joining us to bestow her incredibly deep knowledge and experience in her musical ‘home space’ this Fall. Melissa is the rare combination of academic passion and storied musical success,” said Kate Duncan, associate director of the School of Music Industry at Loyola New Orleans. “I am so eager to see the students’ positive reactions to her long-planned presence in the department, as I know their classroom experience is about to be one-of-a-kind incredible.”

This fall, Professor Weber joins the faculty of Loyola’s acclaimed College of Music and Media, named this spring to Billboard’s “Top 20 Music Business Schools.” Her course, the History of Urban Music, will be essential learning for students in Loyola’s School of Music Industry, particularly in its Popular and Commercial Music program and its Urban and Electronic Music program launched in 2018 – a one-of-a-kind-and-first-of-its-kind undergraduate degree program that honors the culture, history, music and industry skills of hip-hop.

Rooted in the university’s Jesuit liberal arts curriculum, Professor Weber’s course will provide students an historical overview of Black popular music in the United States from the turn of the 20th century to the present, with a focus on genre-driven movements beginning in the late 20th century. Discussions will highlight the music, musicians and music makers, audiences, business practices, recording and distribution channels, technological and media advancements, and issues of race and gender, as well as the definition of “urban music” and the sociological and political context that surrounds it.

Students in Weber’s popular course will learn to identify historical, sociological, cultural and political aspects of Black musical movements and events and define Black music styles through their practitioners, participants, places, and time periods. They will also evaluate how technology, media, marketing, performance practices, art, fashion, and business shape the trajectory of Black music history, creation, distribution, popularity, and influence.

Throughout the course, students will be asked to integrate concepts related to the history of Black music and urban music culture into their personal and/or contemporary areas of interest.

And while they will learn through music listening and identification, their studies will draw heavily on readings from top scholars and academics on jazz, rhythm and blues, hip hop and other styles, incorporating research, discussion, and virtual visits with guest speakers.

“I'm excited to be a part of this new and important course offering at Loyola, not only because of my passion for the subject, but because the history of this music is something that young people are hungry for,” said Professor Weber, underscoring the value that this new historical survey component adds to Loyola’s environment and goal that music industry students master all facets of music knowledge and production. “It’s important to me that people have a foundation in learning where the music they create and partake in comes from, and that they understand the continuum, lineage, and roots of Black popular music in America.”

In her work as DJ Soul Sister, Professor Weber enjoys an unparalleled reputation as one of the nation’s top radio hosts and disc jockeys, “the queen of rare groove.” Weber additionally serves as curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive for Tulane University Special Collections. Also at Tulane University, she is a master’s candidate in musicology and has presented papers at the Pop Conference at MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle), and at conferences for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the Society for Ethnomusicology Southeast and Caribbean Chapter, the National Council for Black Studies, and the Dayton Funk Symposium, among others.