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King museum, Freeman wreck top MS celebrity news

By JACK ELLIOTT JR.

Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Blues icon B.B. King usually lets his

music do his talking but even that failed him during a tour of a

new multimillion dollar museum dedicated to his career.

"They tell me that heaven is beautiful. If heaven is more

beautiful than the way I feel then I'm ready to go tomorrow," King

said in September at the kickoff of four days of celebrating the

grand opening of his namesake museum.

The 20,000-square-foot B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive

Center was built in King's hometown of Indianola. It was built

around a cotton gin where King once worked. It features four phases

of King's life, from his years in the Mississippi Delta to the

present.

The $15 million project was mostly paid for with private

donations and was the top entertainment story in Mississippi in

2008.

King told reporters that he allowed organizers "to get anything

out of my house that they wanted and they did. When I came home, it

was sort of like Katrina had been through my house. I'm happy they

found things that were useful."

Of course, King's legendary guitar "Lucille" was one of the

most coveted items. King said he donated Lucille gladly because

"my guitar is more popular than I am for a lot of people."

King said the museum will serve as an educational tool as well

as an outlet for blues musicians.

Other top entertainment stories were movie star Morgan Freeman

being injured in a car accident in the Mississippi Delta, teenage

star Jamie Lynn Spears giving birth and the Mississippi Blues Trail

expands with dozens of markers going up to honor the state's blues

heritage.

The 71-year-old Freeman suffered a broken arm in August

following the accident along a dark stretch of rural Mississippi

Delta highway in Tallahatchie County. A passenger, identified as a

friend of Freeman's, also was hurt but details of her injuries was

never made public.

The star of "The Dark Knight" and "Driving Miss Daisy"

underwent about 4-½ hours of surgery at a Memphis, Tenn., hospital.

In December, Freeman was one of six recipients of the Kennedy

Center Honors.

Weeks after giving birth to a daughter, Jamie Lynn Spears - the

TV actress and teenage sister of pop star Britney Spears - showed

off the newborn, sharing memories of a "perfect" delivery.

Spears and fiance Casey Aldridge welcomed Maddie Briann at a

hospital in McComb, Miss., on June 19. The 17-year-old posed with

her on the cover of OK! magazine - as expected, given the fact that

Spears announced her pregnancy through an article in OK! and

reportedly was to receive a large payday for exclusive pictures of

the baby.

Jamie Lynn and Aldridge, a pipe-layer, live in southwest

Mississippi.

The list of those honored with Blues Trail markers grew

dramatically in 2008.

A marker was placed at the birthplace of Elvis Presley in

Tupelo. Mississippi native Muddy Waters was honored with one in

Rolling Fork. Blues musicians Joe and Charlie McCoy, who performed

as the McCoy brothers, were honored with a marker in Raymond.

A marker honoring the Mississippi Blind Boys and Sam Myers was

placed at the Piney Woods school grounds in Rankin County. Others

honored with markers included legendary Delta bluesman Robert

Johnson, Grammy award winner James Cotton and Jimmy Reed.

Other notable entertainment headlines of 2008:

- Less than a year after Bo Diddley received the Lifetime

Achievement Award from the state of Mississippi, the rock pioneer

died of a heart attack in June in Florida. He was 79.

- The Mississippi Supreme Court in November said a trial judge

erred in failing to sanction best-selling author Nevada Barr for

lying under oath about an extramarital affair and destroying

evidence in her divorce case. The Supreme Court left intact the

property settlement from Barr's divorce from Richard Broderick

Jones in 2006. Barr's attorney says Barr shouldn't be sanctioned.

- The Mississippi Arts Commission announced in October that Jazz

singer Cassandra Wilson, best-selling author John Grisham and

visual artist Andrew Bucci are among those who'll receive the

state's top arts honor in 2009.

- Sarah Ellen Gillespie, an arts patron whose extensive

collection will be on display in a special wing of the library at

William Carey University, died in September in Hattiesburg. She was

88. Her collection dated back to the 1940s and included Mississippi

artists such as Kate Freeman Clark and Walter Anderson.

- Kermit Scott, the man believed to be the inspiration for Jim

Henson's Kermit the Frog, died in June in Leland. He was 71. Henson

and Scott grew up as friends in Leland, a small Mississippi Delta

town now home to a Muppets museum.

- Paul Davis, a singer and songwriter whose soft rock hit "I Go

Crazy" stayed at the top of the charts for weeks after its release

in 1977, died in April in Meridian. He was 60.

- Former child actress Mollie Mae Gottschalck Barron, who

appeared in a number of "Little Rascals" films, died in April in

Pascagoula. She was 87. Barron was one of the girls who portrayed

the character "Darla" in two "Little Rascals" movies.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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