You may have been going to church all your life, but chances are you have never attended a church with as much spirit as Bishop Dready Manning’s St. Mark Holiness Church outside Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Born in 1934, Bishop Manning, a traditional guitarist, harmonica player, and gospel singer, has infused his church with music and spirited singing, often tunes he has written himself.
How We Helped:
Since joining the Music Maker family in 1995, Bishop Manning has received program donations to rebuild his church and recorded on Came So Far. Music Maker has helped him arrange performances at the Bull Durham Blues Festival and other North Carolina venues. He is featured in the book Music Makers: Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America (2004) and in the film Toot Blues.
“The Lord gave me this way of playing,” he explains in his velvety voice,” and He told me to use it in his service. So that’s just what I’m doing.” But Bishop Manning didn’t always use his extraordinary musical talent to serve the Lord. 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, who is an integral part of his church.
A big change came when he suffered a mysterious hemorrhage in 1962 and was saved both physically and spiritually when some neighbors came to pray over him. “I had a converted mind right then,” he says.
His family is a big part of his musical life – he and Marie and their five children toured for years and produced numerous 45s, albums, tapes and CDs. They still sing together in church every Sunday. His church services are rebroadcast on both radio and cable TV and he has a recording studio as well.
Timothy Duffy sums it up when he says, “Besides his tremendous musicianship of guitar and harmonica, Dready is a powerful singer and songwriter. His recorded work has been given rave reviews throughout the world and earned the state of North Carolina great praise for being a home to such a wonderful musician.”
– Miriam Sauls