Bishop Dready Manning

A native of Gaston, in Northampton County, North Carolina, Bishop Dready Manning picked up a guitar for the first time at the age of seven. "It was probably 1941 or so, and I had a cousin named Doc Mangum; he and I grew up together. He had started playing just a little, and he started showing me what little he knew, and I learned what he'd show me."

A quick study and natural musician, Manning soon surpassed his cousin in skill and went looking for other tutors who might further his musical education. "When I was about 12 years old, I met another man who I thought was the greatest guitar player in the world. His name was Russell Moody. So I started learning from him; soon, I was better than him."

Inspired by the fleet-fingered playing of musicians like Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie McGhee, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Jimmy Reed, Manning had one goal: "I wanted to be a blues guitar player." For lack of formal performance venues, Manning explains that he played many a house party throughout Halifax County during this time.

"I was playing for house parties, and I could play so good until people just wanted me to play. Sometimes there would be as many as three parties in one night, from house to house. I'd start at one early; leave and go to the next one; and leave that one to go to the next one. But they especially wanted me to play for them. I had gotten so good, man. I was very good. When I was 15 years old, I was dynamite."

Skilled though he was, Manning says that he lived the life of the bluesman to the hilt. "Man, I was just terrible," he laughs. "I loved my good time." Soon, his hard living started to catch up with him, and in 1962--at the age of 27--Manning had a sinus hemorrhage. "I was bleeding from my nose, and I bled for about a week and a half," he remembers. "I wasn't able to work…"

The young musician visited a variety of medical practitioners to no avail. It wasn't until he was prayed over in his home by members of a local Holiness church that he was cured. "When they prayed their prayer, I was healed just like popping your fingers," says Manning.

Not long thereafter, Manning dedicated his prodigious talents to spreading the Christian gospel, performing frequently with his wife, Marie, and their six children. The family moved to a tract of land in Roanoke Rapids in 1969 and began constructing the building that would eventually become their church, St. Mark Holiness, in 1975.

In 2003, Manning was recognized with the North Carolina Heritage Award. The musician also works with the Music Maker Foundation, who released his acclaimed Gospel Train album. Recently, the record label Big Legal Mess assembled a compilation of Manning's early recordings entitled Converted Mind. Despite his accolades, Manning remains humbly dedicated to his ministry. "We just have a Holy Ghost time," he says.

Booking Agency: 
Music Maker Foundation
Booking Contact: 
Aaron Greenhood
Booking Address: 
P. O. Box 1358
Booking City: 
Booking State: 
Booking Zip: 
Booking Website: 
Booking Phone: 
(919) 643-2456
Artist County: 
Artist Genre: 
Artist Instruments: 
Guitar - Electric
Programs Provided: 
Master Classes
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