Mance Lipscomb

Beau De Glen Lipscomb, b. April 9, 1895 in Navasota, TX, d. January 30, 1976 in Navasota, TX. The son of a former slave and professional fiddle player, Lipscomb initially learned that instrument and later the guitar. For many years he played on a solely local basis, while working as a farmer, and only made his first recordings at the age of 65, in 1960. Over the following 15 years, he made a series of highly regarded albums, mainly for Chris Strachwitz’s Arhoolie Records label. On the strength of these and his frequent live performances, he built up a very strong reputation for his skills as a singer of a wide range of material. His remarkably extensive repertoire encompassed gospel, rags, ballads and other traditional songs, as well as Texas-style blues. He also appeared in several films, including one biopic, A Well Spent Life. He died in Navasota in 1976, two years after suffering a stroke.

Mance Lipscomb Biography by Cub Koda

Like Leadbelly and Mississippi John Hurt, the designation as strictly a blues singer dwarfs the musical breadth of Mance Lipscomb. Born on April 9, 1895 in Navasota, TX, Lipscomb was a sharecropper/tenant farmer all his life who didn't record until 1960, "songster" fits what Lipscomb did best. A proud, yet unboastful man, Lipscomb would point out that he was an educated musician, his ability to play everything from classic blues, ballads, pop songs to spirituals in a multitude of styles and keys being his particular mark of originality. He appeared at numerous blues and folk festivals throughout the '60s, released several albums on Arhoolie and even one for a major label, Reprise, in 1970, Trouble in Mind. Four years later, Lipscomb retired from the festival circuit and passed away on January 30, 1976 in his hometown of Navasota, TX. He was 81. With a wide-ranging repertoire of over 90 songs, Lipscomb may have gotten a belated start in recording, but left a remarkable legacy to be enjoyed.