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St. Thomas native Dion Parson wants children in the Virgin Islands to be able to follow their dreams and pursue music like he did, which is why he returns quarterly to the island to mentor them. Music is his passion and his life, and it’s something he knows a thing a two or about.

For years, he did this free of charge, but then he teamed up with the VI Lottery and a number of other sponsors to create his education program, “Mentoring Through the Arts of Music,” which brings him back to either St. Croix or St. Thomas/St. John every quarter to serve the community.

Parson, whose tall stature matches his deep rich baritone voice, heads the group Dion Parson & The 21st Century Band, which plays a mix of eclectic upbeat jazz harmonies combined with Caribbean rhythms. All but two of the members are from the Virgin Islands, and according to Parson, the group loves coming back to perform and work with kids.

Wednesday, the Grammy award winning drummer hosted 300 students for a workshop at St. Croix’s Island Center, where the band talked about the importance of team work and making practice count.

Parson said his goal is to guide young musicians to develop their goals in life as individuals and as part of their culture. More importantly, he wants to create a VI Youth Ensemble, which is made up of the most talented high school students on the territory to play at different venues and gigs.