2023 Black History Month Playlists

The Soul of North Carolina

Soul lives and resides in North Carolina. This playlist features both iconic legends and emerging talent. From Gospel to Blues to Funk to R&B, North Carolina has birthed musical pioneers across genres, and each artist brings with them a southern sonic aesthetic that equally represents the artist and the south.


For at least a century, African American musicians from Kinston and the surrounding region have played key roles in the development of several forms of American music: jazz, rhythm and

blues, funk, and gospel music. We invite you to explore the long and rich heritage of Black music in Eastern North Carolina. This playlist celebrates some of the most transformative figures in the history of jazz, gospel, and popular music.


The Music of Eastern N.C.

Whether they are vibing out with a father figure to Pierce Freelon’s “Daddy Daughter Day” or singing the uplifting lyrics to Pat Junior’s “Black Beamin,’” this family-friendly list of songs by North Carolina artists will inspire listeners of all ages to believe in themselves.


North Carolina Inspires

About the Curator

Kyesha Jennings is a multi-hyphenate creative who is skilled in content writing, marketing strategies, creative direction, video production, and social media management. She is the content director for the North Carolina Arts Council where, as a part of the marketing and communications team, she curates, produces, and develops content that highlights the diversity and vitality of the arts in our state. An award-winning hip-hop scholar, Kyesha is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where her research primarily focuses on Black women writers, hip-hop feminism, and popular culture. Her writing has been published in both academic and non-academic outlets such as OkayPlayer, HotNewHipHop, Vulture, TV Line, Indy Week, CLTure, The Recording Academy, and Scalawag Magazine.

Over the past five years, Kyesha has established herself as the go-to writer for all things North Carolina hip-hop. As a contributing writer for Indy Week, an alternative weekly newspaper that reaches an audience of 30,000+ in the Raleigh-Durham area, Kyesha runs a monthly column, "Her Take: On Carolina Hip-Hop." Most notably, she's covered the inaugural Dreamville Festival and has interviewed legendary hip-hop artists from the likes of 9th Wonder, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of a Tribe Called Quest.  

Kyesha is a sought-after speaker and has been an invited guest at Virginia Tech University, UNC Chapel Hill University, Averett University, and A3C Hip-Hop Festival. Before making the transition to marketing, she taught college level writing and literature courses for ten years. She has presented at over 15 academic conferences on composition, literature, and hip-hop. Her research focuses on Black Literature and Culture in general, but more specifically her research centers Black Women Writers, Hip-Hop Studies, Hip-Hop Feminism, and Digital Media. She is scheduled to complete her Ph.D. in 2023.