On June 10th, Officials Break Ground for New $10 Million Museum to Honor Music Great, 13-Time Grammy® Winner, B.B. King

March 14, 2005

That's what blues great and 13-time GRAMMY® winner B.B. King, renowned for his facile playing on the guitar famously known as "Lucille," will get in his home state of Mississippi, beginning in 2007, when phase one of a new museum, The B.B. King Museum, finally opens, followed by phase two and three, as they become fully funded.

It's an 80th birthday gift for Riley B. King, best known as "The King of the Blues."

On Fri., June 10, King, the tireless music legend, will join officials, who are in the throes of fund raising for the project, to break ground for phase one---the restoration of Mississippi's last brick gin mill ---of the planned, 2.3-acre B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Miss., near his birthplace.

Why Indianola, Miss.? According to King, "They asked to do it, and it's where my roots are. Maybe it's the same reason I go back year after year to do a free homecoming concert – there's a sense of place that's very powerful and I hope it can make a difference for the children of the Mississippi Delta."

A decade in the making, the $10 million museum will be partially located within an existing, abandoned gin mill, where, as a youngster, King once worked.

The Bethesda, MD-based firm of Gallagher & Associates, which has helped design projects for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian, is designing the museum exhibits in conjunction with architect Stephen Perkins, who counts master planning for Tokyo Disneyland among his many assignments.

Different areas of the complex, to be developed and opened in phases, will feature various aspects of King's 60-year career, many narrated and presented thru animation and recordings by King himself, including his difficult childhood in the Mississippi Delta and the early days in Memphis, where he launched his career in clubs and on local radio.

A Blues Studio, where visitors will be offered hands on experience at mixing an actual recording, and a number of other interactive exhibits, will also be featured.

A replica of the WDIA radio studios in Memphis, where the indefatigable musician discovered his first real success, will also be housed at the museum.

A major museum feature, the Delta Interpretive Center, will promote a curriculum of education and cultural outreach for at risk youngsters of the mostly poor Delta region.

The state of Mississippi recently declared "B.B. King Day" and has pledged state funds. Fund-raising is also flowing from individuals and corporate entities.

King's actual 80th birthday is on Sept. 16, but he has already started celebrating a long and historic life, traveling as he will on one of his most extensive musical tours ever. He will also start recording a new duets album that's due out later in the year.

In 1987, King received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from NARAS, which produces the GRAMMY® Awards, the Kennedy Center Honors. The Presidential Medal of the Arts, among numerous other awards.

For more information, visit www.bbking.com.

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