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The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina

Updated July 7, 2020 4.3k votes 527 voters 25.2k views104 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. 

  • 1
    J. Cole is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    195
    115

    J. Cole

    Hip hop

    AlbumsBorn Sinner, The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights, Cole World: The Sideline Story, The Come Up

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

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  • 2
    John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    113
    50

    John Coltrane

    Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop

    AlbumsA Love Supreme, My Favorite Things, Giant Steps, Blue Train, Ascension

    John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist... more on Wikipedia

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    The Best John Coltrane Albums of All Time#279 of 363 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

  • 3
    Luke Combs is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    137
    71

    Luke Combs

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

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  • 4
    Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    110
    50

    Nina Simone

    Folk music, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsThe Very Best of Nina Simone, Nina Simone Sings the Blues, At Carnegie Hall, Nina Simone and Piano, Nina Simone at Newport

    Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina... more on Wikipedia

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    The Best Nina Simone Albums of All Time#11 of 602 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

  • 5
    The Avett Brothers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    125
    64

    The Avett Brothers

    Folk music, Folk rock

    AlbumsI and Love and You, Emotionalism, A Carolina Jubilee, Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions, Mignonette

    The Avett Brothers is an American band from Concord, North Carolina. The band is made up of... more on Wikipedia

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  • 6
    Eric Church is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    50
    5

    Eric Church

    Outlaw country, Country rock

    AlbumsCarolina, Caught in the Act, Sinners Like Me, The Outsiders, Chief

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

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    The Best Eric Church SongsList of The Best Eric Church Albums

  • 7
    Charlie Daniels is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    92
    42

    Charlie Daniels

    Outlaw country, Rock music

    AlbumsRedneck Fiddlin' Man, Million Mile Reflections, Full Moon, Homesick Heroes, Simple Man

    Charles Edward Daniels (born October 28, 1936) was an American singer, songwriter and... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Andy Griffith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    94
    47

    Andy Griffith

    Christian music

    AlbumsPrecious 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

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

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  • 9
    Ben E. King is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    72
    30

    Ben E. King

    Pop music, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsStand by Me, Anthology, Seven Letters, 3 for 3, Supernatural

    Benjamin Earl King (born Benjamin Earl Nelson, September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015) was an... more on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    DaBaby is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    165
    113

    DaBaby

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

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  • 11
    Ben Folds Five is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    70
    31

    Ben Folds Five

    Pop music, Piano rock

    AlbumsWhatever and Ever Amen, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, Ben Folds Five, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, Naked Baby Photos

    Ben Folds Five are an alternative rock trio formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The... more on Wikipedia

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    The Best Ben Folds Five Songs#63 of 110 The Best Musical Trios Of All-Time

  • 12
    Randy Travis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    71
    33

    Randy Travis

    Gospel music, Country

    AlbumsAn Old Time Christmas, Worship & Faith, Heroes & Friends, Full Circle, Wind in the Wire

    Randy Bruce Traywick (born May 4, 1959), known professionally as Randy Travis, is an American... more on Wikipedia

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    #880 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time#37 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time

  • 13
    Scotty McCreery is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    41
    10

    AlbumsSee You Tonight, Christmas with Scotty McCreery, Scotty McCreery – American Idol Season 10, Clear as Day, For Once In My Life (American Idol Performance)

    Scott Cooke McCreery (born October 9, 1993) is an American country music singer. He won the... more on Wikipedia

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    #142 of 185 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time#10 of 135 The Best American Idol Contestants Ever

  • 14
    Daughtry is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    66
    39

    Daughtry

    Rock music, Pop rock

    AlbumsDaughtry, Baptized, Leave This Town, Leave This Town: The B-Sides, Outta My Head

    Daughtry is an American rock band formed and fronted by namesake Chris Daughtry, who was a... more on Wikipedia

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  • 15
    Thelonious Monk is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    57
    31

    Thelonious Monk

    Stride, Cool jazz

    AlbumsMisterioso, Monk's Dream, Monk's Music, Solo Monk, The Chronological Classics: Thelonious Monk 1947-1948

    Thelonious Sphere Monk (, October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Jodeci is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    41
    19

    Jodeci

    Pop music, Contemporary R&B

    AlbumsBack to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci, The Show, The After Party, The Hotel, Diary of a Mad Band

    Jodeci ( JOH-də-see) is an American R&B quartet with members DeVanté Swing, Mr. Dalvin, K-Ci,... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Kellie Pickler is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    59
    40

    Kellie Pickler

    Country pop, Pop music

    AlbumsKellie Pickler, Small Town Girl, The Woman I Am, 100 Proof, Tough

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

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    #2 of 289 The Best 'Dancing With The Stars' Contestants, Ranked#49 of 158 The Top Female Country Singers

  • 18
    Etta Baker is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    33
    12

    Etta Baker

    Piedmont blues, Country blues

    AlbumsRailroad Bill, Etta Baker With Taj Mahal, Banjo

    Etta Baker (March 31, 1913 – September 23, 2006) was an American Piedmont blues guitarist and... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    K-Ci & JoJo is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    41
    21

    K-Ci & JoJo

    Contemporary R&B, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsLove Always, My Book, X, Emotional, It's Real

    Cedric Renard Hailey (born September 2, 1969), known professionally as K-Ci (formerly Little... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Tori Amos is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    42
    23

    Tori Amos

    Piano rock, Dark cabaret

    AlbumsLittle Earthquakes, From the Choirgirl Hotel, Strange Little Girls, Under the Pink, Scarlet's Walk

    Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos, August 22, 1963) is an American singer-songwriter and... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Sylvan Esso is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    37
    18

    Sylvan Esso

    Electropop
  • 22
    Fantasia is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    45
    28

    Fantasia

    Christian music, Pop music

    AlbumsFantasia, Free Yourself, Side Effects of You, Back to Me, I Believe

    Fantasia Monique Barrino-Taylor (born June 30, 1984), known professionally by her mononym... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Rainbow Kitten Surprise is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    32
    16

    Rainbow Kitten Surprise

    Rock, Pop
  • 24
    Betty Davis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    26
    11

    Betty Davis

    Rock music, Soul music

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

    Betty Davis (née Mabry; born July 26, 1945) is an American funk and soul singer. She is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    The Connells is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From North Carolina
    26
    12

    The Connells

    Jangle pop, Rock music

    AlbumsBoylan Heights, Ring, Fun & Games, One Simple Word, Weird Food & Devastation

    The Connells are an American band from Raleigh, North Carolina. They play a guitar-oriented,... more on Wikipedia
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