Who bought a headstone for the unmarked grave of blues legend Bessie Smith?
Bessie Smith’s funeral was held in Philadelphia on October 4, 1937. It was attended by about seven thousand people, according to current newspaper reports. Far fewer mourners attended the burial at Mount Lawn Cemetery, in nearby Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania. Jack Gee, her husband from whom she had been separated, thwarted all efforts to purchase a stone, once or twice even pocketing money raised for that purpose. The grave remained unmarked until August 7, 1970, when a new tombstone was placed, paid for by singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green, who, as a child, had done housework for Smith.