J. Weldon Norris, a native of South Carolina, graduated from South Carolina State College in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology. After a tour of duty as a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve, Norris attended Howard University from which he was awarded the degrees of Bachelor of Music and Master of Music (music theory) in 1959 and 1960, respectively. From 1969 until 1973, he served as Director of Choral Activities; Chairman, Department of Humanities; and Acting Academic Dean at Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina. In 1975, Norris, a Ford Foundation Fellow, was awarded the Doctor of Music degree from the School of Music at Indiana University.
Dr. Norris was appointed Director of University Choral Activities and Professor of Music at Howard University in 1973. A published arranger and scholar of the Negro spiritual, Dr. Norris was asked to deliver lectures on that genre at the Amerka-Schule and America-Haus in Hamburg at the University of Gottingen, Germany and more recently in Krakow, Poland and Valencia, Spain.
He created and recorded the music score for a film produced by the United States Park Service entitled "To Do Battle in the Land", a documentary on John Brown. Dr. Norris has served on the Educational and Choral Panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and is presently a member of the panel for the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities.