Mance Lipscomb (April 9, 1895 - January 30, 1976) was an American blues singer, guitarist and songster. He was born Beau De Glen Lipscomb[nb 1] near Navasota, Texas. As a youth he took the name Mance (short for emancipation) from a friend of his oldest brother, Charlie.
He was discovered and recorded by Mack McCormick and Chris Strachwitz in 1960, during revival of interest in the country blues. He recorded many albums of blues, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley and folk music (most of them released by Strachwitz's Arhoolie Records), singing and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. Lipscomb had a "dead-thumb" finger-picking guitar technique and an expressive voice. He honed his skills by playing in nearby Brenham, Texas, with a blind musician, Sam Rogers. His first release was the album Texas Songster (1960). Lipscomb performed songs in a wide range of genres, from old songs like "Sugar Babe" (the first he ever learned) to pop numbers like "Shine On, Harvest Moon" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary".
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 (published posthumously), and also a short 1971 documentary film by Les Blank, A Well Spent Life.
He began playing the guitar at an early age and played regularly for years at local gatherings, mostly what he called "Saturday night suppers" hosted by someone in the area. He and his wife regularly hosted such gatherings for a while. Most of his musical activity took place within what he called his "precinct", the area around Navasota, until around 1960.
Following his discovery by McCormick and Strachwitz, Lipscomb became an important figure in the American folk music revival of the 1960s. He was a regular performer at folk festivals and folk-blues clubs around the United States, notably the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, California.
He died in Navasota in 1976, two years after suffering a stroke.
An annual Navasota Blues Festival is held in his honor. On August 12, 2011, a bronze sculpture of him was unveiled in Mance Lipscomb Park in Navasota. The statue was sculpted by the artist Sid Henderson of California and weighs almost 300 pounds. It portrays Lipscomb playing his guitar whilst seated on a bench, with room for fans to sit beside him and play their own guitars at his side.