One of the life goals of Ernest Dawkins is to represent the African American cultural experience through his music. His musical art form reflects the rich background and cultural distinctions of African American life.
He is one of Chicago's premier jazz saxophonist whose music reflects his extraordinary talent not just as a musician but a composer as well. He has recorded eleven CD's and is the founder and leader of his own group, New Horizons Ensemble.
Dawkins started his musical career at the tender age of twelve when he learned how to play the bass and conga drams. At nineteen he became mesmerized by the sound of the saxophone while listening to his father's jazz recordings of Lester Young. But it wasn't until he heard the alto sax of Guido Sinclair that he knew this was the instrument he wanted to play. Within a week, he had purchased his first saxophone, clarinet and flute all for the meager sum of $24.00. He taught himself the music scale and then found he had to practice at Washington Park because he couldn't practice at home. Two weeks later Dawkins got his first lesson from members of the AACM. From there his illustrious career in music began.
Dawkins also takes the time to share his musical genius and knowledge with Chicago's youth. He has been teaching music in the Chicago Public School system since 1989. Prior to that he worked with the Urban Gateways's Educational Performances Program for schools. He has also worked with the Chicago Park District as well.