Music
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The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina

Updated January 4, 2021 5.3k votes 660 voters 31.3k views106 items

List RulesOnly 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. 

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  • John Coltrane1
    139
    64

    John Coltrane

    Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop
    John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist...  more

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  • Luke Combs2
    165
    86

    Luke Combs

    Country
    Luke Albert Combs (born March 2, 1990) is an American country music singer and songwriter....  more

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  • J. Cole3
    228
    138

    J. Cole

    Hip hop
    Jermaine Lamarr Cole (born January 28, 1985) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and...  more

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  • Ben E. King4
    93
    33

    Ben E. King

    Pop music, Rhythm and blues
    Benjamin Earl King (born Benjamin Earl Nelson, September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015) was an...  more

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    #152 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time#86 of 196 The Greatest Male Pop Singers of All Time

  • Charlie Daniels5
    115
    51

    Charlie Daniels

    Outlaw country, Rock music
    Charles Edward Daniels (October 28, 1936 – July 6, 2020) was an American singer, songwriter...  more

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  • The Avett Brothers6
    143
    75

    The Avett Brothers

    Folk music, Folk rock
    The Avett Brothers is an American band from Concord, North Carolina. The band is made up of...  more

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  • Nina Simone7
    128
    63

    Nina Simone

    Folk music, Rhythm and blues
    Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina...  more

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  • Andy Griffith8
    108
    53

    Andy Griffith

    Christian music
    Andy Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012) was an American actor, comedian, television...  more

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  • Eric Church9
    65
    18

    Eric Church

    Outlaw country, Country rock
    Kenneth Eric Church (born May 3, 1977) is an American country music singer-songwriter. He has...  more

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  • Randy Travis10
    83
    39

    Randy Travis

    Gospel music, Country
    Randy Bruce Traywick (born May 4, 1959), known professionally as Randy Travis, is an American...  more

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    #29 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time#531 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021

  • DaBaby11
    189
    136

    DaBaby

    Hip hop
    Jonathan Lyndale Kirk (born December 21, 1991), better known as DaBaby (formerly known as Baby...  more

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  • Thelonious Monk12
    77
    36

    Thelonious Monk

    Stride, Cool jazz
    Thelonious Sphere Monk (, October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist...  more

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    #9 of 164 The Greatest Jazz Pianists of All Time#77 of 143 The Greatest Pianists of All Time

  • Ben Folds Five13
    76
    39

    Ben Folds Five

    Pop music, Piano rock
    Ben Folds Five are an alternative rock trio formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The...  more

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  • Scotty McCreery14
    52
    21
    Scott Cooke McCreery (born October 9, 1993) is an American country music singer. He won the...  more

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    #8 of 135 The Best American Idol Contestants Ever#135 of 186 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

  • Daughtry15
    75
    52

    Daughtry

    Rock music, Pop rock
    Daughtry is an American rock band formed and fronted by namesake Chris Daughtry, who was a...  more

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  • Sylvan Esso16
    46
    24

    Sylvan Esso

    Electropop
  • Tori Amos17
    50
    28

    Tori Amos

    Piano rock, Dark cabaret
    Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos, August 22, 1963) is an American singer-songwriter and...  more

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    #70 of 225 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters#172 of 603 The Best Rock Vocalists

  • Etta Baker18
    41
    19

    Etta Baker

    Piedmont blues, Country blues
    Etta Baker (March 31, 1913 – September 23, 2006) was an American Piedmont blues guitarist and...  more
  • Betty Davis19
    34
    13

    Betty Davis

    Rock music, Soul music
    Betty Davis (née Mabry; born July 26, 1945) is an American funk and soul singer. She is a...  more
  • Carolina Chocolate Drops20
    37
    17

    Carolina Chocolate Drops

    Old-time music, Bluegrass
    The Carolina Chocolate Drops is an old-time string band from Durham, North Carolina. Their...  more

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  • Kellie Pickler21
    65
    49

    Kellie Pickler

    Country pop, Pop music
    Kellie Dawn Pickler (born June 28, 1986) is an American country music artist, actress and...  more

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  • Rapsody22
    Rapsody, is an American rapper from Snow Hill, North Carolina. She is signed to producer 9th...  more

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    #109 of 191 The Best New School Rappers#108 of 200 The Best Underground Rappers

  • Jodeci23
    46
    29

    Jodeci

    Pop music, Contemporary R&B
    Jodeci ( JOH-də-see) is an American R&B quartet with members DeVanté Swing, Mr. Dalvin, K-Ci,...  more
  • Superchunk24
    33
    14

    Superchunk

    Pop punk, Emo
    Superchunk is a musical group....  more
  • Rainbow Kitten Surprise25
    44
    27

    Rainbow Kitten Surprise

    Rock, Pop