Let the Music Play

by Feb 2, 2023Art & Culture, People, South Brunswick

Melissa Greene, aka DJ Tutsie, finds solace in music while entertaining partygoers in southeastern North Carolina.

Growing up in Little River, South Carolina, as one of eight children, Melissa Greene wanted to be a police officer.

“Every time I saw a police car, I wanted to follow it and see what was going on,” she says.

Greene’s career arc took a different turn, though. She had positions in restaurants and hotels for a time but chose to have children and be a stay-at-home mom.

As she saw her two daughters, Tybrasia, now 21, and Taniya, now 20, enter high school, her plans began to develop toward a career. Fate again took control when Greene, 44, suffered two strokes in 2016 and developed a skin condition that caused thick callouses to form on her feet and hands. The doctors told her she could no long hold a full-time job, which required that she file for disability.

Brunswick DJ Tutsie NC

More tragedy hit in May 2018 when her life partner of 21 years and the father of her daughters, George Lee Collins, Jr., died in an auto accident only a half mile from their home. Two weeks later George’s mother passed away.

“She died of a broken heart,” Greene says.

As Greene groped for consolation and support at the loss of her partner, she realized music brought her comfort. “It helped me cope with the pain,” she says.
It occurred to her that she could be a DJ and put her love of music to an advantage. “I like music, so why not try?” she says.

In the fall of 2018 Greene contacted her long-time friend Marvin Wells of Loris, South Carolina, aka DJ Cube, and confided her idea for her new endeavor.

Wells has been a DJ since 1981, has a host of CDs available and is a DJ at a wide variety of events including weddings and special parties. He was pleased to hear about Greene’s plan and wanted to help her get started.

“When I went to ask DJ Cube for help, he said, ‘Oh, wow! You’re serious,’” Greene recalls. “He was shocked. Many people ask for his help but don’t follow through.”

Wells told Greene what special equipment she needed to buy, assisted in selecting songs for her playlist and explained how to conduct a performance.

“She’s a fast learner,” Wells says.

Brunswick NC DJ Tutsie

Then Greene turned to her cousin, Gwen Frink of Shallotte, for advice and for additional help with her playlist.

“I encouraged her,” Frink says. “I told her to do things she wanted to do.”

Greene chose DJ Tutsie as her handle because Tutsie is the term of endearment Collins called her.

When Greene revealed her plan to her friends, they began to hire her for retirement, birthday and anniversary parties and weddings. The nonprofit With My Sisters, Inc. hired her for its end-of-summer event.

Greene admits she was nervous starting a new career, but she says people are very supportive.

“I get to meet the people [who hire me], and I’m not getting nervous anymore,” Greene says. “I get to know each and every person I come in contact with, and it helps me cope with everything I’ve been through.”

DJ Tutsie plays a wide range of songs — country, gospel, rap, rhythm and blues, Southern soul (including Ann Peebles and O.V. Wright) and hits from the ’70s and ’80s.
“Young people want rap while seniors want oldies, but I do whatever the people want,” she says. “I do it to please them.”

“She makes sure the songs fit the needs of the event,” Frink says. “She’s thorough, and she’s prompt. She is very good at what she does.”

DJ Tutsie

Green’s daughter Tybrasia Collins helped set up the sound board, speakers and backdrop picture at Ruth and Roosevelt Park in Ash recently as entertainment for the 200 to 300 people attending Eldee Marlow’s 87th birthday party, an annual event his children began when he turned 80. Greene played gospel songs, Willie Nelson, Debra Snipes, The Consolers, then Southern soul.

“Being a DJ is great for her,” Collins says.

“I love everything she plays,” adds Eldee’s daughter, Deloris Marlow. “She knows how to cater to the crowd.”

Greene says she is open to being a DJ at any event and meets with hosts to learn which genres and songs they prefer.

Despite the painful situations she has faced throughout her life, Greene says, “I don’t let them stop me.”

Want more information?
DJ Tutsie
(910) 512-6617

Photography by Laura Glantz