Dawkins is one of the world’s premiere saxophonists and composers, whose life goal is for his music and compositions to reflect the evolving collective cultural memory of the African American jazz aesthetic. His four decades of work as a professional artist, educator, and community-based organizer are widely recognized for shaping the contemporary cultural landscape of Chicago and beyond. He is the founder and executive director of Live the Spirit Residency and is past Chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). His latest Commissions from the Jazz Institute of Chicago, to compose Tim Black Blacker Than Black and Refound Connections Commissioned by South Arts, were premiered in 2022. Other recent projects include a commission from New Music America in 2020 to compose his work “Redefining Fredrick Douglass,” and in 2018 International Connections grant from the The McArthur Foundation to lead the Englewood to Soweto project, and a Joyce Award in 2017 in support of the composition “Quantum Englewood.” His creative work has additionally included commissions from the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Sant’Anna Arresi Jazz Festival, Sons d’Hiver Festival, Banliues Bleues Festival, Meet The Composers, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and the King Arts Complex of Columbus Ohio. He is the leader and founder of several ensembles, most notably the New Horizons Ensemble, Aesop Quartet, Chicago Trio, Live the Spirit Big Band, and the Chicago 12. Dawkins has recorded numerous CDs and his publishing company, Dawk Music, has seventeen releases to date. Dawkins was named ‘Chicagoan of the Year’ twice by the Chicago Tribune, most recently in 2001. He received a Meet the Composers Round VII New Residencies grant in 2000 and has been awarded the State of Illinois Governors Fellowship award twice. In 2008, he received a Governor’s International Grant.