40 Songs about North Carolina (Rap/Hip-Hop, Country, Folk, & More)

Foundations of Music

40 Songs about North Carolina (Rap/Hip-Hop, Country, Folk, & More)

Some of these songs are specifically about North Carolina, while others mention South Carolina as well. Still, others are about certain people, experiences, and events in the northern state.

I. Pop songs about North Carolina

Songs about North Carolina from the pop genre appear to be rather scarce. This makes sense given that the state is famous for its old-time music traditions.

1) Raised Up Family

Artist: James Taylor
Album: October Road (Bonus Track Version)
Year: 2002
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In this nostalgic track, the young James Taylor appears to be reflecting on his childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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2) Carolina

Artist: Harry Styles
Album: Harry Styles
Year: 2017
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This is a song about a girl from Carolina.

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II. Rap/Hip-hop songs about North Carolina

Given that rap and hip-hop are in stark contrast to the more traditional genres that characterize the music from North Carolina, it may come as a surprise that there are quite a few songs from these two genres that represent the state.

1) Raise Up

Artist: Petey Pablo
Album: Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry
Year: 2001
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There are quite a few rap and hip-hop artists that hail from North Carolina. Petey Pablo is one of them, and this song pays homage to the state that he grew up in.

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2) North Cack (feat. Joshua Gunn & Kane Smego)

Artist: G YAMAZAWA
Album: Shouts to Durham
Year: 2017
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“Cackalacky” is the name of a North Carolina sauce company, but, in the past, it was also used as a sometimes-derogatory nickname for the state. In this piece, however, the rapper uses it to refer to southern culture positively.

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3) North Cack Grown

Artist: Fonzie Cromartie
Album: North Cack Grown – Single
Year: 2021
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4) North Cack

Artist: Eyes of the Elders
Album: Eoe
Year: 2009
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5) North Cack

Artist: Addy
Album: 2
Year: 2020
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6) North Carolina

Artist: Me. Alive
Album: North Carolina – Single
Year: 2019
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III. Country songs about North Carolina

Along with folk music, the country genre typifies the sound tradition of North Carolina. As such, the state is frequently represented in songs from this genre.

1) Carolina

Artist: Eric Church
Album: Carolina
Year: 2009
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2) Gone To Carolina

Artist: Shooter Jennings
Album: Electric Rodeo
Year: 2006
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3) Carolina

Artist: Parmalee
Album: Feels Like Carolina
Year: 2013
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4) Blue Bandana

Artist: Jerrod Niemann
Album: Blue Bandana – Single
Year: 2015
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The girl in this upbeat country track is a free-spirited gypsy, following her favorite music band across the country.

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5) Carolina (feat. Lucius)

Artist: Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Album: Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Year: 2017
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6) Charlotte’s In North Carolina

Artist: Keith Whitley
Album: The Essential Keith Whitley
Year: 1996
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The gentleman in this song appears to be lamenting the fact that the woman he loves has left him to return to North Carolina. “Charlotte” is also the name of the largest city in North Carolina.

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7) Carolina

Artist: Corey Smith
Album: The Good Life
Year: 2003
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8) Heads Carolina, Tails California

Artist: Jo Dee Messina
Album: Jo Dee Messina
Year: 1996
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9) Poor Ellen Smith

Artist: Billy Strings & Don Julin
Album: Fiddle Tune X
Year: 2014
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This song is based on the real-life murder of Ellen Smith, which took place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1984. The song has been performed and recorded by many artists over the years.

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10) Carolina Can

Artist: Chase Rice
Album: Ignite the Night (Party Edition)
Year: 2014
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11) Oh My Sweet Carolina

Artist: Ryan Adams
Album: Heartbreaker
Year: 2000
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12) Carolina In My Mind

Artist: James Taylor
Album: Greatest Hits, Vol.1
Year: 1976
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Named the unofficial anthem of North Carolina, this song is about longing to return to the place you grew up in.

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13) Red Eye To Raleigh

Artist: Mipso
Album: Dark Holler Pop
Year: 2013
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14) Carolina

Artist: The Harmed Brothers
Album: Better Days
Year: 2013
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IV. North Carolina folk Songs

North Carolina is renowned for having a rich tradition of folk music. While some of the songs in this list are instrumental, there is no doubt that the melodies originate from that part of the country.

1) Greensboro Woman

Artist: Townes can Zandt
Album: High, Low and In Between
Year: 1972
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The man in this song appears to be passing through the town of Greensboro in North Carolina. He comes across a woman who smiles at him coquettishly, but he quickly and politely declines any further advances, as he wants to remain faithful to the lady who waits for him at home.

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2) Leaving Eden

Artist: Carolina Chocolate Drops
Album: Leaving Eden
Year: 2012
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3) Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Artist: Earl Scruggs
Album: Bluegrass
Year: 2012
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Performed initially on a five-string banjo, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” is the ultimate country car chase number.

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4) Crop Comes In

Artist: Chatham County Line
Album: Wildwood
Year: 2010
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5) Blue Ridge Mountains

Artist: Townes van Zandt
Album: High, Low and In Between
Year: 1972
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The Blue Ridge Mountains is a mountain range that spans most of Western North Carolina. They were named for the bluish haze surrounding them, which can be seen from a distance.

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6) Freight Train

Artist: Elizabeth Cotten
Album: Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes
Year: 1989
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“Freight Train” was composed by Elizabeth Cotten in the early 1900s. It is a perfect example of the old-world tunes that are associated with North Carolina.

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7) Wilson Rag

Artist: Elizabeth Cotten
Album: Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes
Year: 1989
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8) Going Down the Road Feeling Bad

Artist: Elizabeth Cotten
Album: Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes
Year: 1989
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V. Songs with North Carolina in the lyrics

These songs are perfect for your North Carolina-themed playlist.

1) Wagon Wheel

Artist: Old Crow Medicine Show
Album: O.C.M.S.
Year: 2004
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2) East Virginia Blues

Artist: The Carter Family
Album: The Essential Carter Family
Year: 2013
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“East Virginia Blues” is a folksy tune that tells the story of a man who met “a fair young lady” when he traveled to North Carolina and how he tried to win her heart.

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3) North Cackalacky Girl

Artist: Reigning Sound
Album: Shattered
Year: 2014
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4) North Carolina

Artist: Little Chief
Album: Lion’s Den
Year: 2014
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This song must be what a long-distance relationship feels like.

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5) Just a Little Bit South of North Carolina

Artist: Dean Martin
Album: The Capitol Recordings, Vol. 5 (1954)
Year: 2013
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This classic number by Dean Martin is a pleasant reminder of the music from a bygone era and will make you wish you had someone waiting for you “Just a little bit south of North Carolina.”

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6) Night Train

Artist: James Brown
Album: 20 All-Time Greatest Hits!
Year: 1981
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“Night Train” was initially recorded as a 12-bar blues instrumental by Jimmy Forrest in 1951. Since then, several different lyrics have been set to their tune, including the ones in this version by James Brown. Brown lists the names of the cities he would play in on his East Coast tour.

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7) Going North Carolina

Artist: L.B.Breakin’Band
Album: Miles Away – EP
Year: 2020
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8) Oh, I’d Like to Go Away

Artist: Don Everly
Album: Don Everly
Year: 1970
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9) Roadie for the Band

Artist: Forrest Kemper
Album: Country Work Tapes, Vol.1
Year: 2020
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10) All My Little Words

Artist: The Magnetic Fields
Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999
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This song is about loving someone who never truly loved you back. In fact, there was nothing you could have done to make them stay: not “For all the tea in China” nor “For all North Carolina.”

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