20 Famous Musicians From Rhode Island

Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States, has produced some of the biggest names in music. From pop to soul, R&B to rock, and everything in between, Rhode Island has been home to a diverse array of talented musicians.

Singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists alike have all emerged from this state, leaving their mark on the music industry. 

In this article, let’s explore some of the best musicians Rhode Island has to offer and celebrate their contributions to the world of music:

1. John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band

John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band are a rock band. Their most well-known song is “On the Dark Side,” which was featured in the movie “Eddie and the Cruisers.”

They were also responsible for the soundtrack to the movie’s sequel, “Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!” Their music is characterized by a classic rock sound with a touch of nostalgia, and they continue to tour and perform to this day.

2. Jeffrey Osborne

Jeffrey Osborne is a singer and songwriter who began his music career as a drummer in the band L.T.D. before pursuing a solo career. Some of his most popular songs include “On the Wings of Love,” “Stay with Me Tonight,” and “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song).”

Osborne has received numerous awards and nominations throughout his career, including four Grammy nominations.

3. Throwing Muses

Throwing Muses is an alternative rock band that formed in the early 1980s. They are known for their unique sound, which combines elements of punk rock, post-punk, and pop rock. The band’s music is characterized by intricate guitar work and Kristin Hersh’s distinctive vocals.

4. Dicky Barrett

Dicky Barrett is a singer and musician who is best known as the frontman for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Barrett’s distinctive gravelly voice is a defining feature of the band’s sound, and he is known for his energetic and charismatic performances. In addition to his music career, Barrett has also worked as a television host and voice actor.

5. Wendy Carlos

Wendy Carlos is a Grammy Award-winning composer and musician who gained fame for her pioneering work in electronic music.

She is best known for her score for Stanley Kubrick’s film “A Clockwork Orange” and her groundbreaking album “Switched-On Bach,” which was one of the first classical albums to be entirely recorded with electronic instruments.

6. Blu Cantrell

Blu Cantrell is a Grammy-nominated R&B singer who gained fame with her hit single “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!).” The song was a commercial success and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

7. Atwater-Donnelly

A folk music duo composed of Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly, Atwater-Donnelly is based in Rhode Island. For over three decades, they have been showcasing their talents as a duo and are recognized for their performances in the traditional genres of American folk, Celtic, and their skill in storytelling.

8. Billy Gilman

Billy Gilman is a country singer who gained fame with his hit single “One Voice.” He has released several successful albums and has been nominated for numerous awards, including a Grammy.

9. Roomful of Blues

Roomful of Blues is a blues and swing band. They have been performing for over five decades and are known for their high-energy live performances and have been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards.

10. Erika Van Pelt

Erika Van Pelt is a singer and songwriter from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, who gained fame as a contestant of American Idol Season 11. She has released several original songs and has performed other songs, like “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga.

11. Belly

Belly is an alternative rock band that rose to fame in the early 1990s with their alternative rock sound. Their debut album, “Star,” was critically acclaimed and spawned hit singles like “Feed the Tree” and “Gepetto.”

12. Jimmy Gaudreau

Jimmy Gaudreau is a bluegrass musician who is known for his virtuosic mandolin playing. He has played with some of the biggest names in bluegrass, including the Country Gentlemen and J.D. Crowe and The New South.

Gaudreau’s technical skill and innovative approach to the mandolin have earned him a reputation as one of the most influential musicians in the genre.

13. Fang Island

Fang Island is an progressive rock band that is known for their high-energy, guitar-driven sound. Their self-titled debut album was met with critical acclaim and helped establish the band as one of the most exciting and innovative acts in the indie rock scene.

14. Daughters

Daughters is a rock band that has been making waves in the underground music scene since the early 2000s. Their intense, confrontational live shows and abrasive, experimental sound have earned them a cult following and critical acclaim.

Their most recent album, “You Won’t Get What You Want,” was released in 2018 and was widely praised for its uncompromising vision and bleak, apocalyptic themes.

15. Plan 9

Plan 9 is a neo-psychedelic band. They are best known for their high-energy live shows and their unique blend of punk rock, surf rock, and horror movie aesthetics.

Plan 9’s influence on the punk rock scene in Rhode Island and beyond is undeniable, as they were inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame.

16. Small Factory

Small Factory was an indie rock band in the early 1990s. The band consisted of three members and was known for their lo-fi sound and catchy pop melodies. Small Factory gained a following in the indie rock scene and released several albums throughout their career.

17. Black Dice

Black Dice is an experimental noise rock band. The band members have changed over the years, but they have always been known for their unconventional approach to music-making.

Black Dice has released numerous albums and EPs and has gained a following in the experimental music scene. They are famous for their boundary-pushing sound and their innovative use of electronics and samples.

18. Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt is a noise rock duo that formed in Providence, Rhode Island. The band consists of drummer Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson, and they are known for their intense live performances and their powerful, distorted sound. They are famous for their unique approach to noise rock and their high-energy live shows.

19. Six Finger Satellite

Six Finger Satellite was an experimental rock band. The band’s sound was a mix of punk, post-hardcore, and electronic music, and they were known for their innovative use of synthesizers and drum machines.

20. Velvet Crush

Velvet Crush is a power pop band. The band’s sound was influenced by 1960s rock and pop, and they were known for their catchy hooks and harmonies. Velvet Crush gained a following in the power pop scene and released several albums throughout their career.


Rhode Island has created some of the most influential musicians in recent decades. From catchy pop melodies by Small Factory to intense noise rock by Lightning Bolt, Rhode Island musicians have been innovative and boundary-pushing.

Their legacies continue to inspire and influence new generations of musicians, making Rhode Island’s music accessible to anyone who loves a mix of different genres.

Jeffrey Osborne Featured Image (Top-Left) by: Hugh Pickens, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Throwing Muses Featured Image (Top-Right) by: Utilizer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Dicky Barrett Featured Image (Bottom-Left) by: Lauren Siegert from Boston, US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Blu Cantrell Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by: John Mueller, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons