16 Artists Bringing Critical Acclaim to Charlotte
Charlotte’s creative scene is as diverse as the growing number of people who call the Queen City home.
From highly acclaimed fine artists and vocalists like Romare Bearden and Anthony Hamilton, to nationally acclaimed spoken word poets like Boris “Bluz” Rogers and acclaimed ballet dancer/choreographer Silas Farley, Charlotte is burgeoning as a hub and springboard for artistic talent. Here are some of the individuals who are helping to shine a light on our region for music, dance, art, and more.
*This list does not represent the full breadth of creative genius in our city.
Grammy Award-Winning Vocalist/Actor
Fantasia Barrino won the heart of America when she first appeared on and won American Idol in 2004. Since then, her raw, vocal talent has mesmerized audiences around the world. A native of High Point, North Carolina, Barrino has also called Charlotte home. Her soul-gripping music has topped the Billboard charts and earned her multiple Grammy nominations and awards. Fantasia once again stole America’s heart with her award-winning portrayal of Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple. In 2014, she was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
Founder – Parliament-Funkadelic (P-Funk) collective
George Clinton is known as the father of G-funk and the founder of the legendary group Parliament Funkadelic collective (think hits like Atomic Dog and We’ve Got the Funk), but did you know he was born in Kannapolis? Clinton’s and his band developed an influential and eclectic form of funk music during the 1970s and beyond. He wowed audiences during his performances with a live spacecraft known as the Mothership, which now lives at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. His music has been sampled by hip hop artists such as Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Nas, and others. Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, alongside 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. In 2019, he and Parliament-Funkadelic were given Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards. Check Clinton's website for tour stops and dates.
Grammy-nominated rapper DaBaby (Jonathan Kirk) has helped to put Charlotte on the national stage as his presence on the hip-hop scene has risen. Since his music debut in 2019, his albums have topped Billboard charts, featuring hits like “Rockstar,” which has been ranked number one on this summer’s Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks as of August 8. DaBaby, formerly known as “Baby Jesus,” is a 2010 graduate of Vance High School. Get updates on DaBaby's tour date and stops on his website.
Grammy Award-Winning Vocalist
Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton is arguably one of the city’s most prominent artists. According to his website, he has been proclaimed a “national treasure” by the Los Angeles Times, and is a GRAMMY® Award winning singer, songwriter, producer, and actor. In 2017, Hamilton was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and had his own day declared in Charlotte. The South Mecklenburg High School alumnus has performed for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, cementing his place in the history books as the “narrator of love.” In 2019, Hamilton published a behind-the-scenes look at his music in his book titled, Cornbread Fish 'N Collard Greens: Inside The Music. Get updates on Hamilton's tour date and stops on his website.
DJ Fannie Mae
Tiffany Berry aka “DJ Fannie Mae” broke ground as the first DJ for the Charlotte Ballet. The Raleigh, NC native is also a singer and songwriter who uses her versatility to captivate audiences across the at local museums, festivals, and events. She’s making her mark in a traditionally male-dominated arena and has increased her following with high-energy music sets streamed live on her social media platforms since the start of the Coronavirus quarantine. Whether spinning oldies, trap music, gospel music or an original song, Fannie Mae is one of the go-to DJs on Charlotte’s music scene.
John P. Kee
Pastor John P. Kee has earned accolades as a top-ranked gospel performer and was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2007. Albums such as Colorblind, The Legacy Project, and Level Next have made Kee a nationally renowned contemporary gospel artist. Key is also the founder of the New Life Fellowship Center in Charlotte, where he serves as the senior pastor.
Legendary artist and Charlotte native Romare Bearden is recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the twentieth century. Bearden spent most of his career in New York and was known for his collages and photomontages worldwide. His work has been featured worldwide and he has been bestowed myriad honors ranging from the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Studio Museum in Harlem (received posthumously) to the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan. He is also the namesake of Romare Bearden Park in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. Bearden’s work has been featured on covers of Fortune and Time magazines and has been exhibited around the world. An innovative artist with diverse interests, Bearden also designed costumes and sets for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and programs, sets and designs for Nanette Bearden's Contemporary Dance Theatre.
Visual Artist/Gallery Owner
Whitney Austin is a self-taught artist who left corporate America to pursue her passion for painting following the death of her grandfather. Her creations feature black cultural pieces and abstract art. She has mesmerized audiences with her live painting demonstrations around the city and uses the power of social media to share her life and her art with followers. Austin is the proud owner of The Whitney Austin Collection Gallery of Art, boasting multiple locations in Charlotte.
Dr. Fahamu Pecou
Visual & Performing Artist/Scholar
Dr. Fahamu Pecou is a renowned visual and performing artist and scholar known for producing works that combine aspects of Fine art and Hip-hop as commentary on Popular culture. Most of his works engage representations of black masculinity and identity. Pecou was selected in 2010 as the inaugural Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture artist-in-residence, in partnership with the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. His work has been featured around the world in private and public national and international collections in institutions such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Société Générale (Paris); Nasher Museum at Duke University; The High Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum, Paul R. Jones Collection; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia.
Charlotte native Marcus Kiser, one of seven Arts & Science Council Creative Renewal Fellowship recipients, advocates using public art to educate and preserve history in underserved and challenged communities. The West Charlotte High School alumnus draws inspiration from a broad range of sources ranging from classical art to comic books and graffiti. He is the co-creator, with fellow artist Jason Woodberry, of Intergalactic Soul, an exhibition that brings science fiction and social awareness together as one. The exhibition was featured at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and the McColl Center for Arts + Innovation as well as Art Basel in Miami. Kiser also has a Knight Foundation grant to produce public art in Charlotte’s Historic West End.
Born in Boone and raised in Charlotte, NC, Sloane Siobhan is a visual artist specializing in oil painting. At age four, she was trained at the Monart Drawing School by renowned South African artist Jillian Goldberg who brought the internationally acclaimed Monart drawing method to North Carolina. Siobhan is a graduate of Northwest School of the Arts in West Charlotte. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Art from Appalachian State University, where she was commissioned by the university’s chancellor to create a painting that remains in the university’s collection. Siobhan has exhibited her work at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and was one of five featured artists at the Mint Museum Uptown as a tribute to the John T. Biggers collection. Today, she is making her mark in Las Vegas, Nevada; however, visitors to the Queen City can catch a glimpse of her mural in Charlotte’s historic Druid Hill neighborhood and other locations.
Northwest School of the Arts alumna Constance Stamatiou (Charlotte, NC) began her dance training at Pat Hall’s Dance Unlimited and North Carolina Dance Theatre. While in high school, Stamatiou, who was also a gymnast, realized that her future was in dance. Upon graduation, she studied at SUNY Purchase and as a Fellowship student at The Ailey School. Stamatiou has performed at the White House Dance Series, in a TED Talk with Judith Jamison, and has had myriad television appearances including, “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and NBC’s “The Today Show.” She was a member of Ailey ll before joining the main Company in 2007. Stamatiou has also been a guest artist for Charlotte favorite Caroline Calouche & Co.
Connect with Constance on Instagram
Charlottean Jacquelin Harris is a member of the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. She began her dance training at Charlotte’s own Dance Productions Studios under the direction of Lori Long and also danced with the liturgical ministry at her home church, First Baptist Church-West. She has studied at the renowned Joffrey Ballet School and graduated with honors from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program in Dance. In 2016 Ms. Harris was named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. Most recently, she was one of 75 dancers across the world to perform in Merce Cunningham's Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, which won a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award. She was a member of Ailey II and joined the main Company in 2014.
Professional Dancer /Choreographer
Twenty-six-year-old Charlotte native Silas Farley performed as a principal dancer for eight years with the New York City Ballet before retiring in March 2020. A national dance star, Farley has been profiled in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, The New Yorker, and Vogue. In fall 2017, Farley was commissioned by MetLiveArts to create Songs from the Spirit, a ballet featuring music created by incarcerated men at San Quentin State Prison. Songs from the Spirit premiered in March 2019 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In spring 2020, Silas was commissioned by the performing arts series Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum to choreograph for its Virtual Commissions initiative. In addition, The Washington Ballet has commissioned Farley to choreograph a new ballet for its 2020-21 season. Farley recently joined the Division of Dance at Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts as the Armstrong Visiting Artist-in-Residence in Ballet. Farley was an inaugural Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellow at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (NYPL-LPA), where his research earned him Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award. He is an alumnus/trustee of Professional Children’s School in New York and a member of the board of directors of The George Balanchine Foundation.
Boris “Bluz” Rogers
Emmy Award-winning Poet/Author
Boris “Bluz” Rogers’ name is synonymous with poetry and spoken word in Charlotte. He is a talented poet who has showcased his prowess for bringing words to life and has won four Emmy Awards, 2010 Southern Fried Poetry Slam, and is Slam Master and Coach of 2007 and 2008 award winning competitive slam team, Slam Charlotte. Rogers has appeared on major radio and television network performances including HBO’s Def Poetry, CBS Radio, Radio Disney, ESPN, Speed TV, BET. He has also shared the stage with many distinguished poets and international recording artists ranging from Taylor Mali, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, and Gil Scott Heron to Outkast, John Legend, and Pink Floyd.
Spoken Word Artist/Storyteller
Hannah Hasan is a spoken word poet, a gatherer and writer of stories, and the creative mind and force behind a plethora of programs and events that utilize storytelling and performance art to build and empower communities. As a highly sought after spoken word poet, Hannah has been commissioned to write and perform custom poetry for audiences in Charlotte, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and in many other cities throughout the United States. Hasan, who grew up in Statesville, NC, is the artist in residence for the local non-profit QC Family Tree where she helps to preserve the history and give voice to the residents of the Elderly Park neighborhood using stories she has gathered from residents during community conversations and productions. She is graduate of North Carolina A&T University and Full Sail University.
Jay Ward is a poet and teaching artist from Charlotte, NC. He is a National Slam champion (2018) and an Individual World Poetry Slam champion (2019) who has opened for R&B vocalist Angie Stone. His work can be found in Crabfat Magazine, Lackadaisy Lit Mag, and on Button Poetry.