Music

The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina  

Ranker Music
1k votes 144 voters 4.7k views 99 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
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rhythm and blues
Jermaine Lamarr Cole, better known by his stage name J. Cole, is an American hip hop recording artist, songwriter and record producer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Cole first received ...more
2
Ben E. King is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music
Benjamin Earl King, known as Ben E. King, is an American soul and R&B singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me"—a US Top 10 hit in both 1961 ...more
3
The Avett Brothers is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Folk music, Folk rock, Bluegrass
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
4
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop
John William Coltrane, also known as "Trane", was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the ...more
5
Charlie Daniels is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Outlaw country, Rock music, Country rock
Charles Edward "Charlie" Daniels is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for his contributions to country, bluegrass, and Southern rock music. He is perhaps best known for ...more
6
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Folk music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz
Nina Simone was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist. She worked in a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, ...more
7
DaBaby is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Jonathan Kirk, known by his stage name DaBaby, is an American rapper from Charlotte, North Carolina. In early 2019 he signed with Interscope Records and released his debut studio album Baby on ...more
8
Andy Griffith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Christian music
Andy Samuel Griffith was an American actor, television producer, Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer, and writer. He was a Tony Award nominee for two roles, and gained prominence in the ...more
9
Ben Folds Five is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Pop music, Piano rock, Power pop
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
10
Thelonious Monk is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Stride, Cool jazz, Hard bop
Thelonious Sphere Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer. Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "'Round ...more
11
Luke Combs is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
Tori Amos is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Piano rock, Dark cabaret, Electronic dance music
Tori Amos is an American singer-songwriter, pianist and composer. She is a classically-trained musician and has a mezzo-soprano vocal range. She has been nominated eight times for a Grammy ...more
13
Randy Travis is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Gospel music, Country, Neotraditional country
Randy Bruce Traywick, known professionally as Randy Travis, is an American singer-songwriter, musician, guitarist, and actor. Since 1985, he has recorded 20 studio albums and charted more than ...more
14
Ryan Adams is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Rock music, Heavy metal, Alternative rock
David Ryan Adams is an American singer-songwriter, musician and producer. He is best known for his prolific solo career, and as a former member of alternative country band Whiskeytown, with whom ...more
15
Kellie Pickler is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Country pop, Pop music, Country
Kellie Dawn Pickler is an American country music artist and television personality. She gained fame as a contestant on the fifth season of American Idol, and finished in sixth place. In 2006, ...more
16
Carolina Chocolate Drops is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Old-time music, Bluegrass, Country
The Carolina Chocolate Drops is an old-time string band from Durham, North Carolina. Their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual ...more
17
Etta Baker is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Piedmont blues, Country blues
Etta Baker was an American Piedmont blues guitarist and singer from North Carolina, United States.
18
Seam is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Seam Indie rock
Seam was an American indie rock band from Chicago. Active from 1991 to 2000, it was led by Sooyoung Park, former frontman of Bitch Magnet. Seam's initial line-up included bassist Lexi Mitchell ...more
19
Superchunk is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Pop punk, Emo, Alternative rock
Superchunk is a musical group.
20
Tift Merritt is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Rock music, Folk music, Alternative country
Catherine Tift Merritt is an American singer-songwriter, musician and North Carolina native. With her longtime band, she has built what has been called a "unique" and critically ...more
21
Nick Cannon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Hip hop music, Rhythm and blues
Nicholas Scott "Nick" Cannon is an American actor, rapper, entrepreneur, record producer, and radio and television personality. On television, Cannon began as a teenager on All That ...more
22
Daughtry is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Rock music, Pop rock, Post-grunge
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
23
FireHouse is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Melodic Rock, Glam metal, Pop music
FireHouse is an American glam metal band formed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1989. The band reached stardom during the early 1990s with hit singles like "Don't Treat Me Bad" ...more
24
Corrosion of Conformity is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Crossover thrash, Thrash metal, Rock music
Corrosion of Conformity is an American heavy metal band from Raleigh, North Carolina formed in 1982. For almost the majority of its existence, the band has consisted of guitarist Woody ...more
25
Mary Lou Williams is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
Third stream, Swing music, Hard bop
Mary Lou Williams was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. She wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements, and recorded more than one hundred records. Williams wrote and ...more