Saturday, May 30, 2015

BB King Laid to rest in Indianola, Mississippi

Hundreds of people filled a church in the Mississippi Delta for the funeral of B.B. King, who rose from sharecropper in the area’s flat cotton fields to worldwide fame as a blues singer and guitarist who influenced generations of entertainers.
King was 89 when he died May 14 in Las Vegas. At his request, his body was returned to his native Mississippi for a final homecoming.

On the way into the church, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant recalled spending time with King in the bluesman's tour bus before a concert last year in Indianola. Bryant said King was proud of being from Mississippi. Noting the thousands of people who came to Indianola for the public viewing Friday and funeral Saturday, Bryant said: "He would have loved to know that one more time he's helping the Mississippi Delta."[NBC News]

Amid rain, about 500 people filled the sanctuary of Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a red brick structure that sits in a field off of B.B. King Road in Indianola. More than 200 people who couldn't get into the sanctuary watched a live broadcast of the funeral in the church's fellowship hall, many waving hand-held fans with a black-and-white photo of a smiling King hugging his black electric guitar, Lucille.
At the beginning of the service, family members filed past King's open casket, which had an image of Lucille embroidered on the padded white cloth inside the lid. Later, the casket was closed and covered with a large arrangement of red roses.[Yahoo News]

The service was held at Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church, which is just off B.B. King Road. According to The Chicago Tribune, around 500 people were in the church for the service. Among them was his longtime personal assistant Myron Johnson, who told stories of his first meetings with King—when the musician told him he could call him whatever he wanted, so long as he didn’t call him “Pops”—to his last evening with the legend.
Barack Obama’s letter, calling King an inspiration to all up-and-coming artists, was read aloud by Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson. “There’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight,” the president wrote. Thompson also read a letter from Bill Clinton, who presented King with his Kennedy Center honor in 1995.
The Rev. Herron Wilson, who delivered the eulogy, said King proved that people can triumph over difficult circumstances.
"Hands that once picked cotton would someday pick guitar strings on a national and international stage. Amazing," Wilson said.
Country singer Marty Stuart said King created a musical legacy for the home state they share.
"As a fellow Mississippian, I'm so proud to stand in his shadow as I walk across the world," Stuart said. [AP]