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Dedicated to promoting the ongoing enjoyment and preservation of traditional and contemporary folk music, dance, crafts and lore in the Carolinas Piedmont, since 1982.

Bishop Dready Manning

Listen to Bishop Dready Manning
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Bishop Dready Manning

Blues-Infused Gospel by Bishop Dready Manning
(website:  here) October 14th

Born in the Northampton County farming community of Gaston in 1934, Dready Manning grew up in a family of sharecroppers whose working lives revolved around cotton, peanuts, and corn. During evenings and weekends, however, his parents invited local blues guitarists and harmonica players into their home. At age seven, Dready Manning took up music himself and began learning to fingerpick guitar. Local bluesmen and the recordings of such regional favorites as Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie McGee, and Buddy Moss became his models. Blues, he recalls, was his "first way of learning guitar." In his early days, he was a blues musician playing in clubs and piccolo joints and selling moonshine and he was "out of hand," according to his wife, Marie.

In 1962, the bluesman developed a hemorrhaging nosebleed that would not quit. His mother invited some neighbors-a group of holiness believers-to pray over her son. On hearing their prayers, Manning remembers, he felt the bleeding suddenly stop. "I had a converted mind right then," he recalls; "I knew that the Lord had worked a miracle." He vowed to never again play the blues.

Within weeks, Dready Manning was using his music to forward the mission of the church by making a "joyful noise unto the Lord." Over the next forty years, he founded St. Mark Holiness Church, performed for countless prayer meetings and revivals, composed numerous sacred songs, released a series of locally produced sound recordings, and built a large audience for his long-running Sunday morning radio show. By the late 1960s, Bishop Manning, his wife, Marie, and their six children had developed a distinctive gospel sound.

Although Bishop Manning still performs with his family, he often lets his grown children take the lead. Nevertheless, he plays at St. Mark every first and third Sunday, carrying his guitar and harmonicas with him into the pulpit. On alternate Sundays, he does the same at Scotland Neck's St. Mark Mission, another church he founded. In the last few years, he has been invited to play at venues as diverse as the Bull Durham Blues Festival (where he used the occasion to testify about leaving the blues behind), and a variety of roots music festivals in Europe. Recently, a BBC crew filmed him for a documentary on the history of gospel music.

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Bishop Manning's musical performances evoke an earlier era in which traveling evangelists brought their music to the streets and to meeting houses across the Carolinas. He received a North Carolina Heritage Award in 2003 and is credited with keeping an older gospel tradition alive. "I'm not about to change what so clearly meets the people's needs," he says.

Please join us for a special evening with Bishop Dready Manning. Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are family-friendly and free. Donations are appreciated and essential to presenting the concert series in the Stella Center.

Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are made possible, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.