North Carolina is the title track and only song on Shelby J.’s debut solo single North Carolina, and was planned for release on her debut album Just Shelby, which ultimately never came out. The song is co-written and produced by Prince, and he appears on guitar and possibly other unidentified instrumentation on the track.
While specific recording dates are not known, the track was worked on in August 2008 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. which might have been its basic tracking, almost two years prior to sessions for Shelby J.’s projected solo album. Shelby J. was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, and likely wrote the song’s lyrics.
Additional recording with fellow North Carolina native Anthony Hamilton took place in 2011. The studio version includes child vocals by Olivia Dease, the daughter of New Power Generation bandmember Elisa Dease. Prior to its studio recording, however, the song was performed during a live performance session by Prince and his band, including Shelby J. on lead vocals, for French radio station RTL on 12 October 2009 (matinee), but the song was not broadcast. The song had also been performed in shows months earlier, around 18 months before its studio recording.
Shelby J. premiered the track during a 2-hour radio show she hosted on North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University’s WNAA 90.1 FM on 6 December 2012.