Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mance Lipscomb

Mance Lipscomb (April 9, 1895January 30, 1976[1]) was an influential blues singer, guitarist and songster. Born Beau De Glen Lipscomb near Navasota, Texas, he as a youth took the name of 'Mance' from a friend of his oldest brother Charlie (Mance short for emancipation). Lipscomb was the son of an ex-slave from Alabama and a half Choctaw Indian mother.

Lipscomb spent most of his life working as a tenant farmer in Texas and was "discovered" and recorded by Mack McCormick and Chris Strachwitz in 1960 during the country blues revival. He released many albums of blues, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley and folk music (most of them on Strachwitz' Arhoolie label[1]), singing and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. He had a fine finger-picking guitar technique, and an expressive voice well suited to his material. His debut release, Texas Songster (1960) revealed how broad and catholic his repertoire was. To me, Mance Lipscomb Was Part Blind Lemon Jefferson, Part Blind Willie Johnson and Part Leadbelly rolled into an East Texas Blues Juggernaut.Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not record in the early blues era, but his life is well documented thanks to his autobiography, I Say Me for a Parable: The Oral Autobiography of Mance Lipscomb, Texas Bluesman, narrated to Glen Alyn, which was published posthumously, and also a short 1971 documentary by Les Blank, A Well Spent Life[1].

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