This Week's Featured Marker:
On May 16, 2007, a crowd gathered for the unveiling of the Blues Trail marker that would mark the most likely burial place of Robert Johnson–a cemetery adjoining Little Zion M.B. Church on Money Road a few miles north of Greenwood. This cemetery holds the third headstone erected for Johnson.
Payne Chapel M.B. Church at Quito is home to Johnson’s first grave marker, placed in 1990 by an Atlanta rock band. Originally located in 1973, Mount Zion M.B. Church Cemetery near Morgan City is the site of the second effort to honor Robert Johnson. A one-ton obelisk was placed here in 1991 by Columbia Records. But because of a later interview with eye witness Rose Eskridge, whose husband supposedly dug the grave, it is now generally accepted that Johnson was buried in a simple pine box provided by Leflore County near a large tree in the rear of the cemetery. Historian Stephen LaVere erected a marker there in 2002. This note, handwritten by Robert Johnson according to his sister, Carrie M. Thompson, is inscribed on his headstone: “Jesus of Nazareth King of Jerusalem. I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He will call me from the Grave.”
To celebrate the Blues Trail marker unveiling, the choir from Little Zion M.B. Church sang, and Steven Johnson, grandson of Robert Johnson, performed one of his grandfather’s songs accompanied by Mississippi blues musicians Jesse Robinson and Alphonso Sanders.
Also attending the unveiling were Gene Roebuck, author of “Finding Robert Johnson – the Official Guide to the CrossGuitar Method and Secret Devil Tuning” and his wife. After spending years researching the subject of Johnson’s music, Roebuck was compelled to write this presentation of his tuning method that has influenced so many guitarists in the Delta blues style. As the front of this marker reads, “A seminal figure in the history of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson (1911-1938) synthesized the music of Delta blues pioneers such as Son House with outside traditions. He in turn influenced artists such as Muddy Waters and Elmore James. Johnson’s compositions, notable for their poetic qualities, include the standards ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ and ‘Dust My Broom.'”
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