Newport MB Church in Ebenezer, MS
After unveiling an obelisk honoring the late Robert Johnson in Morgan City and dedicating a headstone for Charley Patton in Holly Ridge, the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund installed a headstone on the grave of early blues artist Elmore James at Newport M.B. Church Cemetery in Holmes County.
In early September 1991, after reading a Billboard Magazine article about the dedication ceremony for the cenotaph of Robert Johnson in Morgan City, Phil Walden of Capricorn Records contacted Skip Henderson and commissioned a bronze sculpture mounted on a granite headstone through the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund in honor of Elmore James. Dr. Sam Barnes, an orthopedic surgeon and sculptor of Cookeville, Tennessee, conceived of the headstone design and fashioned the bronze likeness of the musician that adorns the specially designed headstone.
Capricorn Records’ President Phil Walden humorously admitted that his dentist, Dr. Barnes, had suggested the headstone design after administering anesthesia during a dental procedure. “The monument represents not only our sincere respect and love for this man and his music,” Walden declared, “but also the appreciation we feel for the African American culture of the Mississippi Delta [and] I hope by establishing this memorial we will bring national attention to the talents that have come from the state of Mississippi.”