10/17/2011 05:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Blues Legend Inspires Unusual Audience

There is a musician whose work might be missing from your iPods: David "Honeyboy" Edwards. He was a blues icon who passed away in August at the age of 95, but his friends are working tirelessly to preserve his legacy. Next week, they are holding a special benefit concert at Buddy Guy's Legends in downtown Chicago on a date that Edwards set months before his death: October 19.

On that same day, my younger brother David turns 22. David is a senior at my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in English. (I majored in marketing.)
But David has such a passion for music that he works as a promoter for his friends' rap group called F.O.C. (Focused On Cash).

One member of F.O.C., Anthony "Ace Boogie" Williams, listens to old music to get inspired for his solo projects. Whether it's a jazzy saxophone intro or a bluesy bass line, Ace Boogie tries to infuse something from "the old school" into his music. He realizes that folks like Honeyboy Edwards paved the way for him to do what he does.

Sampling has always been a controversial issue in music for philosophical and legal reasons. Some folks feel that artists are being lazy when they include a melody from an existing song. But if you look at the success of Jay-Z and Kanye West's nod to Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness" in their hit song named after Redding, you will see that there's nothing wrong with using the past as a compass for the future.

Mr. Honeyboy Edwards was well known for the quote: "The World Don't Owe Me Nothing." But after learning about him this week, I strongly disagree. The music industry in particular owes him more than just a Lifetime Achievement Grammy but a special place in the arts programs it sponsors.

He's not here anymore, but his music is here to stay.