Rashawn Ross – A USVI Icon

Rashawn Ross – A USVI Icon

Good morning! Today we’re highlighting the Virgin Islands’ own Rashawn Ross who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

As the lead trumpeter and music arranger of the Dave Matthews Band, Rashawn Ross embodies what it means to be a musician. 

Born on St. Thomas on January 16, 1979, to Randy Ross and Beverly Monsanto, Rashawn fell in love with music from an early age. From attending parking lot shows to borrowing his dad’s favorite jazz CDs, Rashawn did anything he could to be close to music. 

One of the bands that he frequently listened to on St. Thomas was Imagination Brass. While attending their shows, he would stand as close as possible to the horn section. He later became close to one of the members, Sergio “Bolo” Fernandez, who would become a mentor to Rashawn as he continued his musical journey.

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As he grew older, Rashawn’s passion for the trumpet deepened. At the age of 13, he became a member of the band he used to watch growing up, Imagination Brass Band, a dream come true. Many might have stopped there, but not Rashawn. He knew that there was more out there for him as a musician. It wasn’t until his junior year of high school that he decided to fully commit to music, a decision that would change his life forever.

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Upon graduation, Rashawn secured a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It was here where he was able to practice and perfect his craft. After graduating in 2000, he moved to NYC in hopes of taking his music career to the next level. Rashawn attributes his success to his work ethic, stating, “When I first moved to New York, it was important to me to work as much as possible. Even though my goal was to be a jazz musician, I took whatever gigs I could get, jazz, R&B, whatever was needed,” a mindset that propelled him farther than he ever imagined.

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His talent and drive to become a great trumpeter soon paid off in 2005 when Leroi Moore, the saxophonist with the Dave Matthews Band, took notice of Rashawn during one of his shows with Yerba Buena. Leroi invited him to play with The Dave Matthews Band for the first time in 2005, and thereafter, Rashawn played shows with the band on and off when able. It wasn’t until Rashawn’s gigs with the Dave Matthews Band at Red Rock Theater and New Orleans Jazz Fest that he was invited to join the group full time! From there, the rest is history—a career worthy of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

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But it doesn’t end there for Rashawn. Beyond his amazing talent and incredible resume lies his heart for music among the youth of the Virgin Islands. After hurricanes devastated the Virgin Islands, and many schools lost most, if not all, of their instruments, Rashawn was there to help. He said, “As a Virgin Islander and successful musician, I feel it’s important to do what I can to assist and motivate those students who love music and not wait on the government to replenish the tools they need to hone their craft.” To this day, he continues to offer school districts discounts on Conn-Selmer instruments, thanks to his close partnership with the company.

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Rashawn Ross—a hardworking, talented musician who never forgot about his Virgin Island roots—is now a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician.


Sources- Rashawn Ross – A Virgin Islands Music Ambassador | St. Thomas Source (stthomassource.com)

Rashawn Ross | LA Phil

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