President Barack Obama released his summer 2022 playlist on July 26, and North Carolina's hip-hop duo The Foreign Exchange joined Nina Simone on the list.
Often called the “high priestess of soul,” Simone was born in the small town of Tryon, North Carolina. She is equally remembered for her activism and music. “Do I Move You (Version II)” is considered to be a great example of her genre-defying sound as there is a rock attitude sitting under a blues progression with a vocal approach that borrows greatly from both jazz and soul.
It is no secret that Obama is a fan of hip-hop as this is not the first time a North Carolina hip-hop artist has landed on his list.
Durham native Phonte Coleman joined forces with Nicolay, a producer from the Netherlands, before ever meeting in person. Since 2002, the Grammy-nominated pair has released four albums and started an independent music label right here in Raleigh. Phonte is also a member of North Carolina's most beloved hip-hop group Little Brother.
"Better" was released in 2013 on their fourth studio album Love in Flying Colors. The song features vocals from North Carolina-based artist Shana Tucker and horns from Grammy-nominated Trumpet player Al Strong. Tucker is an accomplished teaching artist, who was awarded a professional development grant in 2019-20 from United Arts of Raleigh and Wake County. She is currently a teaching artist with the United Arts Council of Raleigh/Wake County and the Durham Arts Council. A cultural innovator, Strong is the co-founder of the Art of Cool Project, which spawned the original Art of Cool Festival.