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.

NC Master Chorale members performing "You Do Not Walk Alone" via video conference call

In a typical choral performance, singers file onto a stage, climb risers, and arrange themselves by sections; soprano, tenor, bass, and alto singers stand shoulder to shoulder, primed to create collectively a big, beautiful sound known and loved by many. But it’s a tradition that requires two elements that are non-negotiable during the coronavirus pandemic: large gatherings and close proximity to other people. Following a trend directly related to performance cancellations these days, the North Carolina Master Chorale is going virtual.


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

Come Hear North Carolina

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.

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

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.

Rhiannon Ramsey, Bobby Hicks, Arvil Freeman, and Roger Howell are several of many exceptional fiddlers from Madison County | Photos Courtesy N.C. Arts Council and Blue Ridge Music Trails of N.C.

David Menconi

There’s an old joke in western North Carolina: if you get five folks together in Madison County, a concert is likely to break out; three of the group will play, and the other two will dance. And it’s pretty much a lead-pipe cinch that one of those musicians will be playing a fiddle.

Steep Canyon Rangers and Jim Lauderdale album covers

David Menconi

The Come Hear North Carolina campaign gives artists a chance to celebrate the state in song. And few have embraced that opportunity like Steep Canyon Rangers. The Grammy-winning bluegrass quintet from Brevard —inducted in the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, in Kannapolis, in 2017 — covers many of the state’s musical traditions on their latest album, “North Carolina Songbook” (Yep Roc Records).

Portrait of vocalist Brooke Simpson

Come Hear North Carolina

Brooke Simpson, a Haliwa-Saponi vocalist, songwriter, and finalist on NBC’s hit talent-competition show “The Voice,” is the latest North Carolina musician to take part in Come Hear North Carolina’s series “In the Water.

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