I met DJ Soul Sister at High Hat Cafe on a dreary Friday afternoon. I was a little nervous to be sharing lunch with such a talented artist and musical tastemaker, but enjoying a pimento cheeseburger with “the queen of rare groove” turned out to be the perfect remedy for my rainy day blues. Soul Sister is warm and unassuming. She makes everyone feel like they are in on her special secret.
Best known for “Soul Power,” her live radio show on WWOZ 90.7 FM, and her regular live sets at venues around the city, Soul Sister has loved music since before she could talk. “I remember playing a drum set when I was a baby and asking my dad to take me to the record store on my fifth birthday,” she laughed.
Soul Sister started volunteering at WWOZ in 1996 and she deejayed her first live show one year later. “I never had lessons,” she said. “It just felt so natural.”
DJ Soul Sister’s “Soul Power” radio show and live sets feature music from a variety of genres, including soul, funk, disco, and afro-beat to name a few. But Soul Sister says, “the genre doesn’t matter as long as it’s soulful. It’s about loving the music.” She uses only vinyl records for the best possible sound quality.
In recent years, Soul Sister has become widely regarded as an international music expert. Her opinions have been quoted in top music magazines, including URB, Spin, and Wax Poetics. But she won’t tell you that. Instead, she wanted to talk about other artists’ projects and some exciting new event spaces in the city. “I am really optimistic about GasaGasa, which has just opened up on Freret Street,” she said. “They have everything right – the lighting, art installations. The whole space is interactive, soulful and organic.”
If you don’t live in New Orleans (or even if you do), don’t fret! You can listen to DJ Soul Sister live on WWOZ from anywhere in the world. Visit wwoz.org Saturdays from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., CST to stream her show live.
20 Questions with DJ Soul Sister
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
Art Neville. He is so real and so New Orleans. I also love Jessie Hill, James Booker and Professor Longhair. They are all pioneers of soulful music.
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
I was born and raised here.
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
Carrollton – that’s my ‘hood.’ I also love the Marigny and Treme. Both neighborhoods have an artistic energy that I love.
4. City Park or Audubon Park?
I grew up Uptown, so I have really fond memories of Audubon Park. I still do my daily walks and jogs there! But I went to City Park over the weekend, and I have to say it’s spectacular. So it’s really a tie.
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans?
It was at Rue 127 on Carrolton. They have a great grilled pork chop and their gumbo is really outstanding.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
Ruby Slipper in the Marigny. The Spanish Omelets are to die for! I also like Apolline on Magazine. It’s fine dining, but very affordable.
7. What’s your favorite po-boy? Where do you go to get it?
I like the grilled shrimp from Guy’s on Magazine Street.
8. You’ve got friends visiting and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
Café du Monde for a beignet, Maple Leaf on Tuesday to hear Rebirth Brass Band, Howlin’ Wolf on Sunday to hear Hot 8 Brass Band and to a second line parade.
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
Mimi’s in the Marigny. People from all walks of life are welcome there, and that’s what this city is all about.
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail and where do you go to get it?
Phillips on Maple Street makes a great martini, as does ‘The Ramp Room’ at The Little Gem Saloon. And I have to give Bouligny Tavern a shout out as well!
11. Snowball or Daiquiri? Where from and what flavor?
Snowball from Plum Street. If you’re health conscious, they have great sugar free options. And if you’re not, they have a fabulous king cake flavor!
12. Best spot to see live music?
Tipitina’s. I also like to go to the Spotted Cat on Sundays for Pat Casey and the New Sound.
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
Dumpstaphunk, The Bridge Trio, Khris Royal, Rebirth Brass Band and Hot 8 Brass Band… I guess that’s more than one?
14. Favorite New Orleans Festival?
Well I do love Jazz Fest! But my favorite smaller festival is the Treme Gumbo Festival.
15. Favorite Mardi Gras parade?
Muses – though I hear the ladies of Nyx really put on a great show last year!
16. Where do you shop in New Orleans?
I buy jewelry at Miette. When I need gifts I go to Dirty Coast or Fleurty Girl. But my favorite thing to shop for is, of course, vinyl records! I love Louisiana Music Factory, Domino Sound Record Shack, Jim Russell Rare Records, and Peaches Records.
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
I have a soft spot for the Ogden. I just love that we have an entire museum dedicated to Southern artists. I also love the Backstreet Cultural Museum.
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
I have a superstition that if I watch them play, I will jinx them!
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans and why?
Oh gee. Every day! Specifically, a few Sundays ago when George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic were playing at the House of Blues. At the show, the City of New Orleans gave them the key to the city and officially proclaimed May 5 as “George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic Day.” Only in New Orleans!