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A talented high-note trumpeter and a popular bandleader, Erskine Hawkins was nicknamed "the 20th Century Gabriel." He learned drums and trombone before switching to trumpet when he was 13. While attending the Alabama State Teachers College, he became the leader of the college band, the 'Bama State Collegians. They went to New York in 1934, became the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, started making records in 1936, and by 1938 were quite successful. With Hawkins and Dud Bascomb sharing the trumpet solos, Paul Bascomb or Julian Dash heard on tenors, Haywood Henry on baritone, and pianist Avery Parrish, this was a solidly swinging band that delighted dancers and jazz fans alike. Hawkins had three major hits ("Tuxedo Junction," "After Hours," and "Tippin' In") and was able to keep the big band together all the way until 1953; some of their later sessions were more R&B-oriented yet never without jazz interest. Hawkins led a smaller unit during his last few decades (the survivors of the big band had a recorded reunion in 1971) and the trumpeter kept on working into the 1980s.
Erskine Ramsay Hawkins (July 26, 1914 – November 11, 1993) was an American trumpet player and big band leader from Birmingham, Alabama, dubbed "The 20th Century Gabriel". He is most remembered for composing the jazz standard "Tuxedo Junction" (1939) with saxophonist and arranger Bill Johnson. The song became a popular hit during World War II, rising to No. 7 nationally (version by the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra) and to No. 1 nationally (version by the Glenn Miller Orchestra). Vocalists who were featured with Erskine's orchestra include Ida James, Delores Brown and Della Reese. Hawkins was named after Alabama industrialist Erskine Ramsay.
Early years 
Erskine Hawkins was named by his parents after Alabama industrialist Erskine Ramsay who was rewarding parents with savings accounts for them for doing so. Hawkins attended Councill Elementary School and Industrial High School (now known as Parker High School) in Birmingham, Alabama. At Industrial High School, he played in the band directed by Fess Whatley, a teacher who trained numerous African-American musicians, many of whom populated the bands of famed band leaders such as Duke Ellington, Lucky Millinder, Louis Armstrong and Skitch Henderson (of the NBC Orchestra.)
Later years 
Hawkins was trumpeter and band leader in the lobby bar and show nightclub at The Concord Resort Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, New York. from 1967 to 1993 with his last performing group Joe Vitale piano, Dudly Watson bass, Sonny Rossi vocals & clarinet, and George Leary drums . Hawkins died in Willingboro, New Jersey in November 1993, after a brief visit with his sister in Alabama before he was able to return to resume playing with his band at the Concord at the age of 79. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, alongside his sister, in Birmingham, Alabama.
Induction into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame 
In 1978, Erskine Hawkins became one of the first five artists inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1989, he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Hawkins was a contemporary of another Birmingham jazz musician, Sun Ra. The story of the Hawkins legacy continues to be told today, during tours of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Museum, by Ray Reach (Director of Student Jazz Programs) and Frank Adams, (Director of Education, Emeritus) at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
On his final Sunday night radio show (July 26, 2009) Malcolm Laycock celebrated the 95th anniversary of Hawkins' birth, by featuring music performed by Hawkins.