The roots of American music run deep in North Carolina. Musicians from North Carolina have made brilliant, groundbreaking contributions to many of America’s most important musical genres: John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and Thelonious Monk in jazz; Charlie Poole, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson in bluegrass; Elizabeth Cotten, Blind Boy Fuller, and Etta Baker in Piedmont blues; Reverend Faircloth Barnes and Shirley Caesar in gospel; Maceo and Melvin Parker, Nat Jones and George Clinton in funk; and Link Wray, Roberta Flack, James Taylor, and Don Gibson in rock, R&B, pop and country.
Today new generations of North Carolina musicians are building on this rich legacy by making their own mark in hip hop, indie music and more.
The State of North Carolina, through the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Arts Council, launched Come Hear North Carolina after Governor Roy Cooper declared 2019 the North Carolina Year of Music.
In 2020 Come Hear North Carolina continues through:
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North Carolina has long been an innovator of musical institutions. North Carolina had the first state-supported orchestra in the nation, the North Carolina Symphony, and the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina and the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina are among the first cultural tourism projects that focus on music in the country.
The N.C. Arts Council has supported all forms of music for more than 50 years through grants to arts organizations and artists; created the North Carolina Heritage Award which has recognized traditional musicians with lifetime achievement awards; developed cultural tourism music trails; established Traditional Arts Programs for Students (TAPS) which matches master musicians with young learners to sustain our state’s grassroots music heritage; and created an environment where all forms of music are supported and nurtured.
Learn more about our music history here.
“ You don’t have to travel around to find great folk, jazz, country, hip-hop, rock, punk, or metal.
Some of the best artists in all genres can be found in just one state: North Carolina. Host to Moogfest, Epicenter Festival, and top university music programs, North Carolina is a leader in musical attraction and inspiration.” — 50 States of Music