Sonny Boy Williamson II
Whitfield Chapel Cemetery in Tutwiler, MS
His grave remained unmarked for over a decade, and the impetus for his headstone came from Lillian McMurry and the board of directors of Globe Music Corporation, who met in Jackson, MS to discuss promotions and the music business on December 3, 1976. Since she wanted to “to get some publicity” for its blues catalogue, McMurry made a motion “to design and purchase a headstone/memorial” to place on the grave of Sonny Boy Williamson II in Tutwiler. She estimated that the marker and memorial service might cost as much as $1,500. The motion was seconded and carried on a vote.
On December 14, 1976, McMurry commissioned Davidson Marble & Granite Works, of Canton, to provide an upright granite monument for placement on the blues musician’s grave in Tutwiler. It cost $654.75. On March 5, 1977, McMurry reported to the board that the “headstone was in the process of being set as per her conversations with Davidson Marble Works.” The board, however, decided “to do nothing definite right now about a memorial service.”
The site is maintained today largely due to the efforts of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund. In the 1990s, Skip Henderson recruited the help of a local physician and Roman Catholic nun, Sister Anne Brooks, who operated a clinic and an education center, and he helped the Tutwiler Community Education Center receive a grant, which, in part, went towards maintaining the property into the new millennium. In January 2020, the MZMF commissioned master stonemason Alan Orlicek to repaint the lettering and level the detached headstone.