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Dion G. Parson

Chairman

Dion G. Parson is an educator, composer, and one of New York’s finest, GRAMMY-award-winning
drummers. Born on June 11, 1967, on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, Dion’s musical foundation
ranges from classical, reggae, calypso, jazz, African, and pop music. While his first musical instrument was the trombone, at age 15 Parson discovered he had a greater interest in the drums. He received a grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts to study at Interlochen Music Academy in Michigan and was later selected to represent the USVI as a drummer in the McDonald’s All-American High School Band.

Dion Parson later attended Rutgers University in New Jersey where he studied percussion with Keith Copeland and William Moersch. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education in 1990 and his Master’s in jazz performance in 2012. Parson also studied with master drummer Michael Carvin who remains his mentor. After graduation, Dion moved to New York where he quickly became part of the jazz scene, playing with a wide variety of artists, including such greats as Milt Jackson, Monty Alexander, Jon Faddis, Geri Allen, Lee Konitz, Dianne Reeves, Wycliffe Gordon, and Cyrus Chestnut. He has performed globally in Asia, Europe, Canada, the West Indies, Africa, and the Middle East. Dion has also recorded for several major labels, including Columbia, Sony, Gramavision, Arabesque, Blue Note, High Five, Verve, Enja, Koch Records, and Concord Records. His first record as a leader, 21st Century, was recorded on Tahmun Records with co-leader Ron Blake, and in 2001, he recorded his first solo effort People Music.

In 1998, together with Ron, Dion founded 21st Century Band, a jazz band featuring the rich musical
traditions of jazz fused with the rhythms of his native US Virgin Islands. Under Parson’s leadership, 21st
Century Band set the stage for Caribbean Jazz, making their first two live recordings at the prestigious
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2010 and 2012, with special guest Terell Stafford and
Marcus Printup. In June 2016, as homage to their musical cultural heritage, they released the studio CD St. Thomas.

In addition to his established presence on the jazz scene, Dion has also performed on Broadway with the musical Color Purple. As an educator, he has taught at several educational facilities, including Rutgers University, Harlem School of the Arts (NY), among others. Since February of 2005 Dion has been the drum/percussion instructor at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) Jazz for Teens program, Stevens Institute of Technology: Hoboken, New Jersey, USA, and the Conservatory of Amsterdam.

Always passionate about giving back to his community, in 2009 Dion founded the program “Mentoring
Through the Arts of Music”, under the auspices of United Jazz Foundation, of which he is President. United Jazz Foundation (UJF) is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to identify, educate, and mentor students who aspire to have musical careers. The Foundation has developed a curriculum which consists of musical activities and experiences that stimulate developmental changes and positive outcomes in children from Pre-K through High School in the US Virgin Islands while providing a safe environment in which they can experience and learn about their own local heritage and aspects of life outside of their community.

In the summer of 2017, Dion's professional musical career and educational aspirations came together through the successful summer program “Caribbean Jazz Institute”, under the direction of Ron Blake, at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney Maine. Two years later, in 2019, Dion was appointed Chair of the Communication and Performing Arts Department of the University of the Virgin Islands and is currently also the Director of Music.

Dion Parson endorses Ludwig Drums, Dream Cymbals, Evens Drum Heads, Reunion Blues – Quality gig-
bags and cases and Regal Sticks by Calato drumsticks.

Dion G. Parson