Dr. Dawn Norfleet is a flutist, vocalist, composer and educator from Inglewood, CA. A Wellesley graduate who earned an M.A. in musical composition and a PhD in ethnomusicology from Columbia University, she began her musical career in the competitive jazz scene of New York City, where she worked among celebrated musicians of her generation, including Vijay Iyer and Andy Milne. Eventually, she returned to the Los Angeles area and immersed herself in the local music scene, joining the prestigious Musicians Roster of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture. She has appeared on The Tonight Show, and sang with Kamasi Washington on his major recordings and concerts, including Coachella, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl. She is also a bandleader who has performed at numerous venues, including Jazz at LACMA, California African American Museum and Grammy Museum. A versatile composer, she was a Fellow with the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, a Chou Wen-chung Fellow twice with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, and received two commissions in 2020, including one from the American Composers Orchestra in New York City. She also participated in the prestigious Banff International Jazz workshop in Alberta, Canada.
"Dr. Dawn" specializes in issues regarding African American music and jazz, and has taught those subjects at UC Irvine and UC San Diego. She has also partnered with The Music Center, Colburn School and Grand Vision Foundation as a teaching artist for Grades 5-12. Presenting numerous workshops for youth and adults on the power of music as both conduit and mirror of societal shifts, she specializes in discussing protest music and spirituality that centers African American women of color, jazz, and/or African American music. She has lectured at University of Washington, Occidental College, Lewis and Clark College and University of Virginia and presented workshops on jazz and blues for students and educators at The Music Center, LACMA, Skirball Cultural Center and Grammy Museum. Highlighting issues of empathy, diversity, empowerment, her engaging workshops balance active listening with creative thinking and practices and comply with the California Arts Education Framework for Public Schools.