North Carolina has an impressive lineup of musical legends in various genres. From jazz and soul to R&B and rock, the state has given birth to some of the most talented and influential singers, songwriters, and even rappers.
In this article, let’s explore 20 of the best musicians that North Carolina has in store for us:
- 1. Nina Simone
- 2. Tori Amos
- 3. Ben E. King
- 4. Ronnie Milsap
- 5. Thelonious Monk
- 6. Ben Folds
- 7. J. Cole
- 8. Petey Pablo
- 9. Randy Travis
- 10. Luke Combs
- 11. Mark Germino
- 12. Charlie Daniels
- 13. Rapsody
- 14. The Avett Brothers
- 15. The-Dream
- 16. Kellie Pickler
- 17. Anthony Hamilton
- 18. Chris Daughtry
- 19. Eric Church
- 20. The Carolina Chocolate Drops
1. Nina Simone
Nina Simone was a singer, songwriter, and pianist. Simone’s distinctive voice and her fusion of jazz, blues, gospel, and classical music made her one of the most important figures in 20th-century music.
Her songs, including “I Put a Spell on You” and “Feeling Good,” continue to inspire and influence musicians across genres.
2. Tori Amos
Tori Amos is a singer, songwriter, and pianist who combines music elements of alternative rock, classical music, and electronica, and her evocative lyrics often explore themes of female empowerment, sexuality, and spirituality.
She has released several critically acclaimed albums and has been nominated eight times in the Grammys.
3. Ben E. King
Ben E. King was a singer and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead singer of The Drifters. King’s soulful voice and his memorable hits, including “Stand by Me” and “Spanish Harlem,” made him a beloved figure in the R&B and soul music scenes.
He continued to release music throughout his career and was recognized for his contributions to popular music.
4. Ronnie Milsap
Ronnie Milsap is a country singer and pianist who has created hits like “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It for the World” and “It Was Almost Like a Song” which topped the country music charts. He has won numerous awards for his music, including six Grammys.
5. Thelonious Monk
A pianist and composer who is considered one of the most important and innovative figures in jazz history, Thelonious Monk helped to redefine the boundaries of jazz music and influenced generations of musicians.
He is famed for his unique playing style, characterized by dissonant chords and unusual rhythms. He also wrote many influential jazz standards, including “Round Midnight” and “Blue Monk,” and was recognized for his contributions to American music with a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.
6. Ben Folds
Ben Folds is a singer, songwriter, and pianist who is best known as the lead singer of the band Ben Folds Five. Folds’s music combines elements of alternative rock, power pop, and jazz, and his catchy melodies and witty lyrics have earned him a devoted fanbase.
He has released several successful albums, collaborated with numerous other musicians throughout his career and wrote a book about his legacy.
7. J. Cole
J. Cole is a rapper and singer who has become one of the most successful and influential figures in hip hop music. Cole’s introspective lyrics, his smooth flow, and his socially conscious themes have earned him critical acclaim and a large following.
He has released several platinum-selling albums and has won numerous awards for his music, including BET Hip Hop Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and a Grammy.
8. Petey Pablo
Petey Pablo is a rapper who is best known for his hit songs “Raise Up” and “Freek-a-Leek.” Pablo’s music blends elements of rap and crunk, and his energetic flow and catchy hooks have made him a popular figure in the hip hop scene.
He has released several successful albums and has collaborated with many other artists, including Ciara and Lil Jon.
9. Randy Travis
Randy Travis is a country singer and songwriter, who has sold over 25 million units worldwide. Travis’s distinctive baritone voice, traditional country sound, and heartfelt lyrics have made him a beloved figure in the country music scene for over three decades.
He has won numerous awards for his music, including several Grammys, and has been recognized for his contributions to American music with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
10. Luke Combs
Luke Combs is a singer and songwriter who has become one of the most successful and popular artists in country music today.
Combs’s music combines elements of traditional country with rock and pop influences, and his hits “When It Rains It Pours” and “Beautiful Crazy” powerful vocals have earned him a devoted fanbase.
11. Mark Germino
Mark Germino is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who is known for his distinctive blend of country, rock, and blues music.
Germino has released several critically acclaimed albums and has collaborated with many other musicians throughout his career, including Emmylou Harris and Confederate Railroad.
12. Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels was a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who was best known for his hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Daniels’s music blended elements of country rock and Southern rock, and his energetic performances and virtuosic fiddle playing made him a beloved figure in the music world.
Rapsody, born Marlanna Evans, is a rapper and songwriter whose music focuses on hip hop and her lyrics often address social and political issues. She has released several successful albums and has collaborated with many other musicians like Kendrick Lamar and toured with 9th Wonder.
14. The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers are a folk rock band who have gained a devoted following for their heartfelt lyrics, tight harmonies, and energetic live performances. The band’s music blends elements of folk, bluegrass, rock, and punk, and their introspective lyrics often address themes of love, loss, and personal growth.
They have released several successful albums and have won numerous awards for their music, including several Americana Music Awards.
The-Dream, born Terius Nash, is a singer-songwriter, and producer who has become one of the most successful and influential figures in R&B and hip hop music.
He has released several successful albums and has written and produced hit songs for many other artists, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Mariah Carey.
16. Kellie Pickler
Kellie Pickler is a singer-songwriter from Albemarle, North Carolina, who gained fame as a contestant on the fifth season of American Idol. Pickler’s country music has been well-received by audiences, and her heartfelt lyrics and powerful voice have earned her a dedicated following.
She has released several successful albums and has won numerous awards, including three CMT Music Awards.
17. Anthony Hamilton
Anthony Hamilton, a singer-songwriter and producer, has mesmerized his audience with his smooth and soulful vocals, blending R&B, gospel, and blues elements in his music.
He has achieved great success with the release of several albums and has earned several accolades, including a Grammy Award for his collaboration with Al Green.
18. Chris Daughtry
Chris Daughtry is a singer and songwriter from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, who gained fame as a contestant on the fifth season of American Idol.
His self-titled album sold over a million in a span of five weeks after it was released. He also has released several successful albums with his band, Daughtry.
19. Eric Church
With hits like “Love Your Love The Most,” “How ‘Bout You,” and “Guys Like Me,” Eric Church is a singer and songwriter who has become one of the most popular and successful figures in country music.
Church’s music blends elements of country, rock, and blues, and his powerful vocals and honest lyrics have earned him a devoted following.
20. The Carolina Chocolate Drops
The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a Grammy Award-winning folk band. They have gained fame for their innovative blend of traditional African-American string band music with modern influences. The band is also known for their contribution to the movie The Hunger Games soundtrack.
North Carolina has produced some of the most influential and talented musicians across various genres. From the country music of Eric Church and Mark Germino, to the jazz stylings of Nina Simone and Thelonious Monk, to the R&B and soul music of Anthony Hamilton and Ben E. King, North Carolina’s musical legacy is rich and diverse.
These musical legends have not only entertained us but have also paved the way for future generations of musicians.
Nina Simone Featured Image (Top-Left) by: Roland Godefroy, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tori Amos Featured Image (Top-Right) by: Tim Notari, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Ben Folds Featured Image (Bottom-Left) by: Michael Nutt, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Chris Daughtry Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons