Some of you who know me personally know that I was born and raised in Chicago, IL. What you might not know is that I am a true Chicago sports fan. Definitely the Chicago Bears. A while back a guy said he wondered why Julius Peppers (recently signed by the Bears) said his reason for signing with the team was their history, their tradition, their legacy. The guy said he didn’t believe Peppers and said he felt like the Bears haven’t won consistently for some time. I told him the Bears have a very rich history in the NFL. Hall of Fame players like Red Grange, Bronco Nagurski, Dick Butkus and Walter Payton all played for the Bears. George Halas is “legendary” in the football world. He said, “I know about all of that, but that was long ago”. That conversation made me think about the musical world. And that word Peppers used to describe what the football franchise has left – its legacy. That sent me to the World English Dictionary for a clear definition of what the term Peppers used and to find out what it really meant.
Legacy: something from past; something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time.
Well, was Peppers right in using the word “legacy” in his press conference? Absolutely! He was acknowledging the football players who played before him which made me think about musicians of the past. Are they honored and is their work remaining relevent? Yes, most of the time. This whole conversation helps me bring to mind Wynton Marsalis, the great jazz trumpet player and jazz historian/statesman. He really does well in speaking about the jazz greats of the past and keeping their music alive. My father, also a jazz musician, thought Wynton was one of the great musicians of our time, yet Wynton reached back and honored musicians of my father’s day. Classic! Within the jazz music genre, the music of previous generations is still very much revered, more than any other music category. It may be because jazz is not as popular as Rock, R & B and now Hip Hop. What about the legacy of musicians in the more popular genres? Is their legacy alive? Yes, some of the time. A friend of mine had a conversation with a popular rapper (who I shall not name) a while ago soon after the death of James Brown. She asked him if he was planning to do anything special (musically) to commemorate Mr. Brown’s life and music. She went on to explain that after all the sampling of his every inflection, rapper’s in general owe James Brown that much. The unnamed rapper said he did not have any plans. Now I’m definitely not putting down Rap and Hip Hop artist by any means. I’m just using them to prove my point; that all musicians hope to leave the legacy of their art. I’m sure Jay-Z and LL Cool J hope 20 years from now someone is still listening to their raps. I’m positive John Mayer and Alisha Keys would love to be respected for their music when they turn 75 years old respectfully. Yes, it would be good to respect the entire group of artists’ from yesterday. The legacy any artist leaves is his or her art.