Great music comes from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and this past weekend great jazz music from a Grammy award winning musician who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands was played in state of New York.
In 1998, Dion Parson and Ron Blake co-founded 21st Century Band, which Dion leads, featuring the music and talent from the United States Virgin Islands.
Dion Parson was born in St. Thomas and has been an important part of the jazz scene in New York. His musical background has a wide range and ranges from classical, reggae, calypso, jazz, African, and pop music, while the 21st Century Band that Dion is a part of blends traditional jazz with Caribbean touches.
Dion and the 21st Century Band performed at the Abyssinian Baptist Church Jazz Vespers Concert Series on January 13, 2013 in Harlem. This event was supported by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism to showcase the talented local music and the talented international musicians in a cultural setting and also to attract tourism to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The January 13, 2013 concert celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday and President Barack Obama’s Inauguration.
A little history and background on the talented musician, Dion Parson:
- The trombone was Dion’s first musical instrument. He later then traded his trombone for a set of drums at the age of 15.
- Dion played the drums at a very high level and was awarded a grant from the Virgin Islands Council of the Arts to study at a music school in Michigan called the Interlochen Music Academy.
- When Dion returned home from the Interlochen Music Academy, he was selected to play the drums and be the Virgin Islands representative in the McDonald’s All-American High School Band.
- In 1985, Dion later attended the prestigious Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he studied percussion and received his B.M. in Music Education in 1990. He studied with Keith Copeland and William Moersch.
- In 1994, Dion began studying with master drummer Michael Carvin, an important relationship that he maintained for 18 years thereafter.
After Dion graduated, he then moved to the state of New York where he quickly became a part of the jazz scene and played with many very talented jazz musicians. He has also recorded for several major music record labels, including Columbia, Sony, Gramavision, Arabesque, Blue Note, High Note, Verve, Enja, Koch Records, Concord Records and Tahmun Records.