The roots of American music run deep in North Carolina

From Thelonious Monk and Link Wray to Doc Watson and Nina Simone, North Carolinians have made groundbreaking contributions to many of America's most important musical genres. Today new generations of North Carolina musician are building on this legacy by making their own mark on music.

Welcome to Come Hear NC: a celebration of our state's music


Portrait of Connye Florance

Jazz has long been on Nashville airwaves and in Nashville clubs and nightspots. North Carolina native Connye Florance is one of the most admired jazz artists in Music City. 

Pictured above: Pink Floyd, whose namesake has an interesting North Carolina tie

North Carolina is among the most celebrated musical states in America — a place that gave the world Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Nina Simone, Superchunk, the Piedmont blues, beach music, and more. Beyond the obvious headliners, however, the Old North State has also contributed more than its fair share of mysteries and legends to the wider story of popular music. Here are seven such tales.

Graphic depicting people social distancing and using their phones

Across North Carolina and beyond, musicians are keeping busy as best they can during this coronavirus era. You can find numerous performers — Greensboro singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett, American Aquarium front man B.J. Barham, Johnny Folsom Four’s David Burney — doing weekly or even daily performances from their homes, usually on Facebook or Instagram, with the obligatory online tip jar for donations.

Tony Brown | Photo Credit: Dead Horse Branding

Producer, musician, and music industry executive Tony Brown has worked with some of the biggest names in country music: from Elvis Presley and Emmylou Harris to Reba McEntire and George Strait. His work has yielded over 100 #1 singles, a whopping $100 million of record sales, multiple Academy of Country Music awards, and a nearly two decade-long stint as President of MCA Nashville Records.

A collage of musicains who participated in the Under One Roof N.C. Artist Benefit Concert

Presented by Come Hear North Carolina, “Under One Roof,” a three-day, three-hour virtual music festival, raised $50,000 to support artists across North Carolina whose work has been disrupted by COVID-19.

Downtown Asheville Skyline | Photo Credit: Explore Asheville

A return to normal concert experiences is still a way off; the Asheville Symphony has elected to delay the start of its concert series until February 2021. Like so many other art and music organizations, the Asheville Symphony is taking the hiatus as an opportunity to try out new ways to share its art form in people’s homes.

Image of J. Cole with article title: North Carolina Music Copes with the Coronavirus Crash by David Menconi

To varying degrees, everyone involved in North Carolina’s music community is trying to figure out what to do to deal with life coming to a full stop. Stages are dark; clubs and record stores are closed; tours are canceled.

Arts and COVID-19

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

African American Music Trails
Blue Ridge Music Trails
NC Symphony