[Dixielandjazz] Long post - New Orleans musician burials

Tim Eldred julepjerk at surewest.net
Sun Oct 24 08:00:23 PDT 2004

This is from Sunday's nola.com.  Connection to the music on this list - the Barbarin family is the first to open their "space" in partnership. 

New Orleans musical legends whose families don't have the means for proper burials are given a final resting spot 
Sunday, October 24, 2004 
By Frank Donze, staff writer 
Inside Holt Cemetery near City Park is a marble memorial to the life of early jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden, who died in a state mental institution in 1931. The marker is all the more meaningful because no one is sure where Bolden is buried. 

Just a few steps away is the grave of renowned rhythm and blues singer Jessie Hill. But if not for the efforts of family members who raised money for a headstone after he died in 1996, Hill's final resting place would be difficult to find. 

Weary of the way many of Louisiana's music legends die in obscurity, a cemetery preservation group and a New Orleans family steeped in musical heritage took steps Saturday to guarantee proper burials and clearly marked gravesites for local musicians whose families can't afford such things. 

The first-of-its-kind partnership, to be called The New Orleans Musicians Tomb, was officially dedicated Saturday afternoon inside St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery on Basin Street. 

The family of Lloyd Washington, a member of the Ink Spots vocal group from 1945 into the late 1960s, was the initial beneficiary. 

Washington, a one-time Tulane University groundskeeper who died at 83 in June and whose ashes were being kept in a box at the Ernie K-Doe Mother-in-Law Lounge, arrived in a casket loaded in the back of a red pickup truck. 

Because his family couldn't afford a second-line marching band, a funeral procession of about two dozen relatives, friends and curious onlookers filed quietly into the cemetery shortly before 1 p.m. 

After a brief ceremony, two porcelain angels and a silver and black urn housing Washington's remains were placed in the Barbarin family tomb, the final resting place of several noted musicians, including family patriarch Isidore Barbarin, who died in 1960. 

Isidore Barbarin, a jazz pioneer and the driver of a horse-drawn hearse, played alto horn and mellophone in the Excelsior Brass Band. He also led the Onward Brass Band. 

During the summer, his family legally granted Friends of New Orleans Cemeteries use of their tomb for local musicians, rich or poor, who have no burial place. 

"It's like a safety net," said Rob Florence, the group's president. "If a musician doesn't have a place to be buried, now they do." 

Paul Barbarin, 73, who carries the name of a musician uncle who wrote "Bourbon Street Parade," flew in from California to attend Saturday's ceremony. 

"This is the beginning of something big," said Barbarin, who with his sister, Marie Barbarin Baptiste, signed the legal document granting use of the tomb. 

"People are going to start doing what we're doing. Believe me, they're going to start doing it because there are so many (musical) greats coming out of New Orleans and they need a place to rest. They're not able to buy a tomb or whatever. They're old and they don't have no families. So, it's good. I think we did a real good thing." 

The Archdiocese of New Orleans owns St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery and will handle restoration work on the Barbarin tomb, Florence said. Local artist Mitchell Gaudet was commissioned to create an iron cross featuring an oversized, colored-glass note that will be placed atop the tomb soon. 

The cost of repairs, which includes several plaques, falls to the owners and is expected to total about $20,000. Some money for repairs was raised a few years ago, but Florence said his group is still facing a shortfall of $9,000. 

The large tomb has 18 vaults, and the cemeteries group will be able to use six of them; if the deceased is cremated, each vault can accommodate multiple remains. The Barbarins also will maintain use of the tomb. 

Criteria and a registry for burial in the musicians tomb have been developed by the cemeteries group. Musicians who qualify can be joined in death by one spouse. 

The musicians tomb was the idea of group member Anna Ross Twichell, whose daughter Heather, a harpist, offered her family tomb in St. Louis No. 2 to friend Antoinette K-Doe after her husband, Ernie, died in 2001. New Orleans' rhythm and blues man Earl King was buried there last year. 

A costume party benefit to help pay for the musicians' tomb will be held Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. at the Mother-in-Law Lounge on North Claiborne Avenue. 

For information about the musicians tomb or the fund-raising event, contact Florence at rob at tourneworleans.com. 

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