NC Local Music Scene

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NC Local Music Scene

Georgia Morris, Co-Editor

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When most people think of North Carolina musicians, they think of big stars like J. Cole or Scotty McCreery. People don’t necessarily associate North Carolina with an impressive music scene, but the music scene in North Carolina is actually flourishing. From sold out shows at venues in Raleigh to free shows at The Rocky Mount Mills, good music can be found all over North Carolina, even being performed by North Carolinians! Here I have collected some North Carolina musicians, both big and small, that are sure to impress.


  1. J. Cole

Although J. Cole is not necessarily part of the local music scene, he is still a very important North Carolinian figure in the music business. Jermainne Lamarr Cole, known as J. Cole, is from Fayetteville, NC. He is a best-selling singer, songwriter, rapper, and record producer. Inspired by rappers like Eminem and Tupac, Cole began rapping at age 12. He released songs on different internet platforms before releasing The Come Up, his debut mixtape in 2007. He signed with Jay-Z’s record in 2009 and released more mixtapes, but in 2011 he released his debut studio album and was placed number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. All five of J. Cole’s studio albums have topped the charts and certified platinum. He has entered several other ventures like creating his own record label, Dreamville Records, and a non-profit, Dreamville Foundation. In 2015, Cole began to house single-mothers in his childhood home in Fayetteville.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise 

Don’t be too quick to judge by the name of this band. Rainbow Kitten Surprise is a band hailing from Boone. The five members of the band met while attending Appalachian State University and bonded over their love of music. They formed a band and began creating music, touring across North Carolina during their free weekends and breaks from school. Dynamic instrumentation, chilling harmonies, and introspective lyrics are all aspects of their music, which have helped them to sell out 45 shows on their first headlining tour across the U.S. alone.

Song recommendation: “Matchbox” from How To: Friend, Love, Freefall


Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso is an electronic pop duo from Durham. The duo came together in 2013 and quickly began to make their mark. Sylvan Esso released an eponymous debut album in 2014, which reached number thirty-nine on the U.S. Billboard 200, and their second album was even nominated for a Grammy. 

Song recommendation: “Coffee” from Sylvan Esso


Ghostt Bllonde


Good music isn’t just limited to what makes the charts! Ghostt Bllonde is a band from Raleigh that still locally performs and opens for larger bands touring in the area. The stage-energy and humor of the lead singer is almost unmatched. I think that a quote from their website summarizes them very well: “The self proclaimed ‘trash-can-pop’ of Raleigh, NC’s energetic upstarts, GHOSTT BLLONDE, has now graduated into a healthy serving of Gutter-Glam. Their Disco-Twang churns with momentum as a self aware train of excitement and positivity.” If you’re ready to get your “Gutter-Glam” on, try to catch a show!

Song recommendation: “Dissonance” from Home and Home Vol. 2


Dillon Fence


Dillon Fence is a rock band from Chapel Hill. Similar to Rainbow Kitten Surprise, the band members met in college while attending UNC-Chapel Hill. Although the band was mainly active from the 1980s to 1995, you can still catch a show every once in a while! This past August, Dillon Fence played a show at our own Rocky Mount Mills. That just shows that you don’t have to look far for good music!

Song recommendation: “Something for You” from Best +

Hiss Golden Messenger

Another local band that has played at the Rocky Mount Mills is Hiss Golden Messenger. Hiss Golden Messenger is a folk music band from Durham. The band is lead by MC Taylor, who has been accompanied by several different musicians on different releases.

Song recommendation: “Caledonia, My Love” from Hallelujah Anyhow


This list of artists doesn’t even scrape the top of the good music at our disposal in North Carolina. Take a lawn chair out to Rocky Mount Mills, catch a ten dollar show at a small venue in the Triangle, or hit a big arena! The possibilities are endless.


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