Growing up in Kinston, North Carolina, music was a way of life for Eric Xavier Dawson. His father, Edward, hosted late-night jam sessions with local players from Kinston’s thriving music scene—long a hotbed for jazz, soul, and R&B, it is the hometown of R&B and funk legend Maceo Parker. While listening to these sessions, and digging through his father’s record collection, Eric fell in love with the music that has been the backbone of Kinston’s musical legacy. By age 10 he was playing keyboards, joining the music-making at home.
When these sessions became infrequent in his high school years, Eric stopped playing music until he discovered the soprano sax at Eastern Carolina State University and joined the jazz/soul group the Jazz Connection. With the encouragement of the group’s leading members, Eric went on to finish his music degree at North Carolina Central University, a renowned home of North Carolina jazz, while playing at jazz sessions throughout the Triangle. Eric has performed alongside Fred Wesley, Joe Chambers, Branford Marsalis, John Faddis, and many others. With the Eric Xavier Band, Eric upholds eastern North Carolina’s important place in the story of jazz, funk, soul, and R&B.