Music

The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina 

Ranker Music
Updated July 7, 2020 2.7k votes 468 voters 21.8k views 104 items

List Rules Only artists born or raised in North Carolina or bands formed in North Carolina.

Here are the best artists and bands from North Carolina. North Carolina has a long tradition of old-timey music. The state produced many country musicians at the turn of the 20th century, but that does not mean North Carolina has slowed down in the slightest in recent years. Many chart-topping artists were either born or raised in the Old North State. With so many to choose from, it can be tough to determine who the best musical artists from North Carolina are, but this list will certainly try. 

One noteworthy fact about the state is that it has produced many successful contestants on American Idol. Fantasia, Clay Aiken, and Kellie Pickler all came from the state and made their way to superstardom on the hit TV show. A lot of famous rock bands, such as Ben Folds Five, Sylvan Esso, and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, also got their early starts in North Carolina. Talent is just bursting at the seams in the state, and these examples barely scratch the surface. Other popular North Carolina artists include J. Cole, Fred Durst, Luke Combs, and R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo.

This list of North Carolina musical artists has singers, rappers, and bands from all genres. No matter what you like to listen to, you will find someone on this list you are a fan of. Vote for the acts you like best. 

list ordered by
1
J. Cole is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Hip hop; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Born Sinner, The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights, Cole World: The Sideline Story, The Come Up, + more

Jermaine Lamarr Cole (born January 28, 1985) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Born on a military base in Germany but raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cole ...more

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2
Luke Combs is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Luke Albert Combs (born March 2, 1990) is an American country music singer and songwriter. Combs signed a deal with Sony Music Nashville, and the debut single from This One's For You, ...more

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#2 of 57 The Best New Country Artists #91 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time #140 of 184 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

3
DaBaby is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Jonathan Lyndale Kirk (born December 21, 1991), better known as DaBaby (formerly known as Baby Jesus), is an American rapper and songwriter from Charlotte, North Carolina. He is best known for ...more

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4
The Avett Brothers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina

Albums: I and Love and You, Emotionalism, A Carolina Jubilee, Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions, Mignonette, + more

The Avett Brothers is an American band from Concord, North Carolina. The band is made up of two brothers, Scott Avett and Seth Avett, as well as Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon. Mike Marsh, Tania ...more

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5
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Folk music, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Very Best of Nina Simone, Nina Simone Sings the Blues, At Carnegie Hall, Nina Simone and Piano, Nina Simone at Newport, + more

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone (), was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music ...more

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6
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop & Post-bop; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: A Love Supreme, My Favorite Things, Giant Steps, Blue Train, Ascension, + more

John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer ...more

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The Best John Coltrane Albums of All Time #296 of 372 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #224 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

7
Andy Griffith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Christian music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Precious Memories, Bound for The Promised Land, Absolutely the Best, Shouts the Blues and Old-Timey Songs, Just as I Am: 30 Favorite Old Time Hymns, + more

Andy Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012) was an American actor, comedian, television producer, Southern Gospel singer, and writer whose career spanned seven decades in music and ...more

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8
Charlie Daniels is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Outlaw country, Rock music & Country rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Redneck Fiddlin' Man, Million Mile Reflections, Full Moon, Homesick Heroes, Simple Man, + more

Charles Edward Daniels (born October 28, 1936) was an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist known for his contributions to Southern rock, country, and bluegrass music. He was ...more

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9
Ben E. King is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Pop music, Rhythm and blues & Soul music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Stand by Me, Anthology, Seven Letters, 3 for 3, Supernatural, + more

Benjamin Earl King (born Benjamin Earl Nelson, September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015) was an American soul and R&B singer and record producer. He is best known as the singer and co-composer of ...more

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10
Ben Folds Five is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina

Albums: Whatever and Ever Amen, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, Ben Folds Five, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, Naked Baby Photos, + more

Ben Folds Five are an alternative rock trio formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The group's members are Ben Folds, Robert Sledge, and Darren Jessee. The group achieved mainstream ...more

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11
Randy Travis is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Gospel music, Country & Neotraditional country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: An Old Time Christmas, Worship & Faith, Heroes & Friends, Full Circle, Wind in the Wire, + more

Randy Bruce Traywick (born May 4, 1959), known professionally as Randy Travis, is an American country music and Christian country music singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor. Active since ...more

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#733 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,259 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #477 of 784 The Best Singers of All Time

12
Eric Church is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Planning Office added Genre: Outlaw country, Country rock & Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Carolina, Caught in the Act, Sinners Like Me, The Outsiders, Chief, + more

Kenneth Eric Church (born May 3, 1977) is an American country music singer-songwriter. He has released six studio albums through Capitol Nashville since 2005. His debut album, 2006's Sinners ...more

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13
Daughtry is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina

Albums: Daughtry, Baptized, Leave This Town, Leave This Town: The B-Sides, Outta My Head, + more

Daughtry is an American rock band formed and fronted by namesake Chris Daughtry, who was a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol. Their self-titled debut album was released in November ...more

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14
Kellie Pickler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Country pop, Pop music & Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Kellie Pickler, Small Town Girl, The Woman I Am, 100 Proof, Tough, + more

Kellie Dawn Pickler (born June 28, 1986) is an American country music artist, actress and television personality. Pickler gained fame as a contestant on the fifth season of American Idol and ...more

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15
Thelonious Monk is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Stride, Cool jazz & Hard bop; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Misterioso, Monk's Dream, Monk's Music, Solo Monk, The Chronological Classics: Thelonious Monk 1947-1948, + more

Thelonious Sphere Monk (, October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer. He had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard ...more

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16
Scotty McCreery is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Planning Office added Genre: Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: See You Tonight, Christmas with Scotty McCreery, Scotty McCreery – American Idol Season 10, Clear as Day, For Once In My Life (American Idol Performance), + more

Scott Cooke McCreery (born October 9, 1993) is an American country music singer. He won the tenth season of American Idol on May 25, 2011. His debut studio album, Clear as Day, was released in ...more

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17
Tori Amos is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Piano rock, Dark cabaret & Electronic dance music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Little Earthquakes, From the Choirgirl Hotel, Strange Little Girls, Under the Pink, Scarlet's Walk, + more

Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos, August 22, 1963) is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. She is a classically trained musician with a mezzo-soprano vocal range. Having already begun ...more

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18
K-Ci & JoJo is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina

Albums: Love Always, My Book, X, Emotional, It's Real, + more

Cedric Renard Hailey (born September 2, 1969), known professionally as K-Ci (formerly Little Cedric as a member of Little Cedric and the Hailey Singers), is an American singer, songwriter and ...more
19
Fantasia is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Christian music, Pop music & Contemporary R&B; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Fantasia, Free Yourself, Side Effects of You, Back to Me, I Believe, + more

Fantasia Monique Barrino-Taylor (born June 30, 1984), known professionally by her mononym Fantasia, is an American R&B, singer, songwriter, actress and author. She rose to fame as the winner ...more

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20
Jodeci is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina

Albums: Back to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci, The Show, The After Party, The Hotel, Diary of a Mad Band, + more

Jodeci ( JOH-də-see) is an American R&B quartet with members DeVanté Swing, Mr. Dalvin, K-Ci, and JoJo. Formed in 1989 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jodeci's members began their ...more
21
Etta Baker is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Piedmont blues and Country blues; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Railroad Bill, Etta Baker With Taj Mahal, Banjo

Etta Baker (March 31, 1913 – September 23, 2006) was an American Piedmont blues guitarist and singer from North Carolina.
22
Nick Cannon is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Hip hop music and Rhythm and blues; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Nick Cannon, Can I Live?, Gigolo, Child of the Corn, Stages, + more

Nicholas Scott Cannon (born October 8, 1980) is an American actor, rapper, director, producer, television presenter, radio personality, and activist. On television, Cannon began as a teenager on ...more

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23
Rainbow Kitten Surprise ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
24
Betty Davis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Rock music, Soul music & Glam rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Betty Davis, Nasty Gal, Betty Davis Hangin' Out in Hollywood, They Say I'm Different, Is It Love or Desire, + more

Betty Davis (née Mabry; born July 26, 1945) is an American funk and soul singer. She is a performer who was known for her memorable and noteworthy live performances.
25
Ryan Adams is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Genre: Rock music, Heavy metal & Alternative rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Heartbreaker, Gold, Love Is Hell, Jacksonville City Nights, Cold Roses, + more

David Ryan Adams (born November 5, 1974) is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and poet. He is best known for his solo career, during which he has released 16 ...more

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