181 voters

The Best Musical Artists From Rhode Island

Updated October 23, 2019 1.8k votes 181 voters 7.5k views75 items

List RulesOnly artists born or raised in Rhode Island or bands formed in Rhode Island.

Here are the best artists and bands from Rhode Island. The land of pristine shorelines and historic landmarks also has a richly vibrant music scene centered around Providence. The city became particularly famous around the 1990s when noise rock began to take hold in the public's consciousness. It is also home to various music festivals, such as the Newport Folk and Newport Jazz festivals, where bands from all over the United States gather to treat locals to a day of fun, good vibes, and the best musical artists from Rhode Island. 

It is hard to pin down a definitive sound of the region. Some bands like The Dear Hunter play more progressive rock that has a variety of styles while The Low Anthem is more experimental in its styling. The same variety can be seen in the singers that come out of the Ocean State. Billy Gilman is a country artist who made his way up the ranks on The Voice while Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has released several solo albums. Other popular Rhode Island artists include Sage Francis, Velvet Crush, and Daughters.

Regardless of what music you like best, there is something for everyone in Rhode Island. These are the most famous Rhode Island musical artists, but there are plenty of other smaller acts that play regularly around the state. Vote for your favorites.

  • 1
    Heartland rock, Rock music

    AlbumsEddie & The Cruisers, Tough All Over, Roadhouse, Eddie and the Cruisers II, Eddie and the Cruisers: The Unreleased Tapes

    John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band is an American rock band from Rhode Island which began its career in the 1970s and achieved mainstream success in the 1980s. Originally known as simply Beaver...  more

    #1024 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time#410 of 1,681 The Best Rock Bands Of All Time#313 of 544 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time

  • 2
    Blues-rock, Jump blues

    AlbumsThere Goes the Neighborhood, Dance All Night, Under One Roof, Standing Room Only, The First Album

    Roomful of Blues is an American blues and swing revival big band based in Rhode Island. With a recording career that spans over 40 years, they have toured worldwide and recorded many albums. Roomful...  more

    #191 of 222 The Best Blues Artists of All Time#13 of 27 The Best Jazz Blues Bands/Artists#4 of 65 The Best Jump Blues Bands/Artists

  • 3
    Blues-rock, Swing music

    AlbumsDuke`s Box, The Blues And More, New Blues for Modern Man, Duke's Blues, Explorer

    Michael John "Duke" Robillard (born October 4, 1948) is an American guitarist and singer. He founded the band Roomful of Blues and was a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Although Robillard is...  more
  • 4
    Alternative rock, Post-punk

    AlbumsThe Real Ramona, Hunkpapa, University, Purgatory/Paradise, Throwing Muses

    Throwing Muses is an alternative rock band formed in 1981 in Newport, Rhode Island, that toured and recorded extensively until 1997, when its members began concentrating more on other projects. The...  more
  • 5
    Jangle pop, Dream pop

    AlbumsKing, Star, Now They'll Sleep, Moon, Baby Silvertooth

    Belly was an alternative rock band formed in 1991 by former Throwing Muses members Tanya Donelly and Fred Abong. The band was based in Boston, Massachusetts, though all of the original members grew...  more

    #57 of 74 The Best Bands Named After Body Parts#264 of 491 The Best Indie Bands & Artists#35 of 100 The Best Musical Artists From Massachusetts

  • 6
    Contemporary R&B, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsStay with Me Tonight, Emotional, Don't Stop, Music Is Life, Jeffrey Osborne

    Jeffrey Linton Osborne (born March 9, 1948) is an American Grammy–nominated singer–songwriter, musician and lyricist. Osborne is the former drummer and lead singer of the American R&B/Soul group...  more
  • 7
    Disco, Film score

    AlbumsMasters of the Universe, The Stunt Man / An Unmarried Woman, Broadcast News, I, The Jury

    William Conti (born April 13, 1942) is an American composer and conductor best known for his film scores, including Rocky (and four of its sequels), Karate Kid (and all of its sequels), For Your Eyes...  more
  • 8
    Bubblegum pop, Pop music

    AlbumsThe Best of The Cowsills, The Cowsills in Concert, 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Cowsills, The Best of the Cowsills, Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools

    The Cowsills are an American singing group from Newport, Rhode Island, six siblings noted for performing professionally and singing harmonies at an early age, later with their mother. The band was...  more
  • 9
    Rock music, Power pop

    AlbumsIn the Presence of Greatness, Free Expression, Melody Freaks, Stereo Blues, Rock Concert

    Velvet Crush is a power pop band from Rhode Island that achieved prominence in indie-rock circles in the early- and mid-1990s. The band broke up in 1996 but re-formed in 1998 and have continued to...  more
  • 10
    Noise rock, New Prog

    AlbumsWonderful Rainbow, Hypermagic Mountain, Ride the Skies, Lightning Bolt, Earthly Delights

    Lightning Bolt is an American noise rock duo from Providence, Rhode Island, composed of Brian Chippendale on drums and vocals and Brian Gibson on bass guitar. The band met and formed in 1994, when...  more
  • 11
    Noise rock, Mathcore

    AlbumsDaughters, Daughters, Canada Songs, Hell Songs, Daughters 7" EP

    Daughters is an American rock band formed in 2001 in Providence, Rhode Island after the demise of Providence-based As the Sun Sets. Daughters have four releases including their self-titled EP, Canada...  more
  • 12
    Ska punk, Punk rock
    Richard Michael Barrett (born June 22, 1964), better known as Dicky Barrett, is an American singer who is the frontman of Ska punk band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and the announcer for Jimmy Kimmel...  more
  • 13
    Swing music, Big band

    AlbumsThe Chronological Classics: Bobby Hackett 1948-1954, Rendezvous, What a Wonderful World, Bobby Hackett Plays Henry Mancini / Bobby Hackett Plays Bert Kaempfert, A String of Pearls

    Robert Leo Hackett (January 31, 1915 – June 7, 1976) was an American jazz musician who played trumpet, cornet, and guitar with the bands of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman in the late 1930s and early...  more
  • 14
    Pop music, Folk music

    AlbumsLearn to Sing Like a Star, Strange Angels, Sky Motel, Hips and Makers, Murder

    Martha Kristin Hersh (born August 7, 1966) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and author, known for her solo work and with her rock bands Throwing Muses and 50FootWave. She has released...  more
  • 15
    Pop music, Acoustic music

    AlbumsDare to Dream, One Voice, Classic Christmas, Billy Gilman, Everything and More

    William Wendell Gilman III (born May 24, 1988) is an American singer. Starting as a young country artist, he is known for his debut single "One Voice", a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a top...  more
  • 16

    AlbumsLate Night Christmas Eve, Swing Brothers, Just You, Just Me, No Bass Hit

    Scott Hamilton (born September 12, 1954) is an American jazz tenor saxophonist associated with swing and mainstream jazz....  more
  • 17
    Rock music, Alternative country

    AlbumsDivine Providence, War Elephant, Negativity, The Black Dirt Sessions, Born on Flag Day

    Deer Tick is an American alternative rock band from Providence, Rhode Island composed of singer-songwriter John J. McCauley, guitarist Ian O'Neil, bassist Chris Ryan and drummer Dennis Ryan. The...  more

    #157 of 194 The Best Bands With Animal Names#27 of 37 The Best Bands Named After Bugs#36 of 40 The Best Bands Named After Desert Animals

  • 18
    Rock music, Experimental rock

    AlbumsAct II: The Meaning of, and All Things Regarding Ms. Leading, Act III: Life and Death, Dear Ms. Leading, Act I: The Lake South

    The Dear Hunter is a progressive rock band originating in Providence, Rhode Island. It began as a side project of Casey Crescenzo, formerly of The Receiving End of Sirens. The band's sound features a...  more

    #150 of 211 The Best Progressive Rock Bands/Artists#29 of 109 The Best New Prog Bands#47 of 76 The Best Rock Opera Bands/Artists

  • 19
    Ska, Rock music

    AlbumsThe Wait, Line in the Sand, The Rest, Space Monkey, Take Me Home

    ZOX is a band from Providence, Rhode Island that is self-described as "violin-laced indie-rock"—think Beethoven-meets Deathcab-meets The Police. The band consists of four members: namesake John Zox,...  more
  • 20
    Synthpop, Electronic music

    AlbumsTron, Switched‐On Brandenburgs, Volume 1, Peter & the Wolf / Carnival of the Animals, Part 2

    Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos; November 14, 1939) is an American musician and composer best known for her electronic music and film scores. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Carlos studied physics...  more

    #30 of 305 The Best Electronic Bands & Artists#114 of 183 The Best Film Score Composers#128 of 134 The Playboy Interviews Of The '70s

  • 21
    Pop music, Neo soul

    AlbumsFrom L.A. to L.O., Breathe, Bittersweet, So Blu, Hit 'em Up Style (Oops!)

    Blu Cantrell (born Tiffany Cobb; March 16, 1976) is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter. Cantrell rose to fame in 2001, with the release of her debut single, "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)", which...  more

    #170 of 228 The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time#18 of 25 2000s One-Hit Wonders: Where Are They Now?#60 of 113 The Best Bands with Colors in Their Names

  • 22
    Noise rock, Electronic music

    AlbumsLoad Blown, Creature Comforts, Broken Ear Record, Mr. Impossible, Beaches & Canyons

    Black Dice is an American experimental music group currently based in Brooklyn, New York....  more
  • 23
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop

    AlbumsPersonal Journals, A Healthy Distrust, Dead Poet Live Album, Human the Death Dance, Sickly Business

    Paul William "Sage" Francis (born November 18, 1976) is an American independent underground rapper from Providence, Rhode Island. He is the founder and CEO of Strange Famous Records....  more

    The Best Sage Francis Songs#117 of 200 The Best Underground Rappers#38 of 56 The Top Rappers From Miami

  • 24
    Pop punk, Power pop
    Ted Leo is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He is the frontman and lead guitarist of rock group Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and in 2013, he and Aimee Mann formed the indie...  more
  • 25
    Mincecore, Anarcho-punk

    AlbumsConverge / Dropdead Split, Dropdead, Dropdead, Discography 1991-1993, Plague Rages / Unholy Grave

    Dropdead is a hardcore punk band based in Providence, Rhode Island. They have been active in the punk scene since 1991. The band's songs are generally short and very fast-paced, with few lasting...  more
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List Rules: Only artists born or raised in Rhode Island or bands formed in Rhode Island.