At a ceremony Friday a black granite marker will be unveiled, engraved with his signature, that will become the centerpiece of a memorial courtyard outside the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.
The courtyard, with benches, eventually will be surrounded by walls that alternate between solid panels engraved with song titles and wooden slats that allow breezes to pass through the space.
King was 89 when he died May 14 at his home in Las Vegas. He was buried two weeks later at the museum in Indianola, the hometown in the Mississippi Delta cotton country where he first sang and played guitar on street corners as a young man and where he continued to play annual concerts until a year before his death.
“One kind favor I’ll ask of you / One kind favor I’ll ask of you / It’s one kind favor I’ll ask of you / Please see that my grave is kept clean,” King sang on his Grammy-winning 2008 album — a standard recorded in the 1920s by Texas bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson.
King’s grave was kept clean, but not extravagant, in the first few months after his burial. On Sept. 15 — the day before what would have been his 90th birthday — the site was surrounded by a chain-link fence and marked only by a patch of artificial turf and a large wreath of purple silk flowers.
Expenses to develop the memorial courtyard will be paid partly by King’s estate and partly by private donations to the museum. Mississippi’s economic development agency is also contributing about $50,000 because it’s a tourist attraction.
“He was a great man, and we are honored to have his final resting place here at the place that bears his name,” museum director Malika Polk-Lee said in a statement Tuesday.