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Blues Legend B.B. King Laid to Rest In Indianola
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This weekend marked the final homecoming for Mississippi native and Blues legend, Riley "B.B." King. King was laid to rest outside the museum that bears his name in Indianola on Saturday.

For many, the Mississippi native was a legend who changed the world of music. Others saw King as a humble man who never forgot his up-bringing as a sharecropper's son in the Delta.

 

It was standing room only at Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Indianola on Saturday as friends and family members gathered to say goodbye to B.B. King.

About 500 people filled the sanctuary of the church while another 200 watched a live broadcast of the funeral in the church's fellowship hall.

For nearly three hours, choirs sang songs of praise, while friends shared stories about the man who grew-up dirt poor in the Mississippi Delta, only to go on to change the world.

Reverend Herron Wilson, who delivered the eulogy, says King's life proved it was possible to triumph over difficult circumstances.

"How someone from such lowly and humble beginnings can rise to such noble heights of success?" asks Williams. "In many ways we can look at the life of BB King and be inspired and be encouraged. Hands that once picked cotton would someday pick guitar strings on a national and international stage. Amazing."

That legacy as an international Blues icon even brought comment from two presidents. Mississippi's Second District Congressman Bennie Thompson read letters from both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

"B.B. may be gone but the thrill will be with us forever," read Thompson. "There's going to be one killer blues session in heaver tonight, Barack Obama."

Yet others, like Governor Phil Bryant, chose to remember King as a hardworking man who loved his home state.

"So we're going to continue to try to honor him every way we can from the state of Mississippi, to the Governor's Office, to the Senate, to the House, to the United States Congressmen, to U.S. Senators and presidents," Bryant says. "This humble, quite man changed the world but the world never changed him."

Outside the funeral, mourners who were not able to make it inside the church, braved scattered thunderstorms and increasing humidity for their chance to say goodbye. Some played music. Others shared pictures of when they met King personally.

Thelma Lucious drove from Columbus to attend the ceremony. While an avid blues fan herself, it's because of her late mother that she decided to attend.

"My mother used to always keep his music going all the time," Lucious says. "I got a lot of posters of B.B. King from my mother, so hey, I'm representing my mother."

Kiley Reid from New York was visiting a friend who lived nearby, when she heard about the funeral. She says she couldn't pass up the opportunity to at least pay her respects.

"This just seemed like something that if we didn't go we'd be sorry for it," says Reid. "You just don't see this every day. I mean, in New York you just don't see this many people gathered like this, so that was a big part of it."

And that might be the silver lining to King's passing. While the world lost a musical genius, Mississippi may benefit from King's gravesite in Indianola. Malcolm White is the Director of Tourism for Visit Mississippi.

"What will happen now in his passing will be very important to Mississippi, to our story," White says. "I mean the fact that he came home to rest is very symbolic to us means that he's forgotten about where he came from and that Mississippi matters. He could have buried everywhere. He chose to come home and that means everything to us."

King was buried at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. The museum will develop a memorial garden, with benches and a water wall, around King's grave.