Mance's name came from "Emancipation" — his father was an ex-slave who settled in Navasota, Texas to raise his family. With music as a part of the family, Mance acquired his first guitar when he was 11, from his mother. It wasn't long until Lipscomb was playing with his father at local dances around that Texas area. Also running into the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson from time to time, the two traded ideas on the guitar early on. Although he was offered to work as a travelling musician in 1922, Mance preferred to stay near his home, especially since he had a wife and children. Disciplined, Lipscomb kept working as a tenant farmer through the 20s and 30s, until he earned enough income to purchase land and build his own house in Navasota. Although he kept his music up, and even met Lightnin' Hopkins in 1938, it wasn't until 1960 that he was discovered for his music.
Much later in 1960, musicologists Chris Strachwitz and Mack McCormick, looking for Lightnin' Hopkins, instead came across Lipscomb. The California-based blues label, Arhoolie, was just being formed by Strachwitz and he was recruiting new musicians for records. Quickly, Lipscomb's first record, Mance Lipscomb: Texas Songster and Sharecropper, was recorded right in Lipscomb's kitchen. New opportunities arose, and in 1960 he was already playing in folk festivals in Texas. Helped by his California network, Lipscomb played college campuses and coffee houses in California, also recording more for Arhoolie.
Even Sinatra liked Lipscomb, issuing Lipscomb's recording of Trouble In Mind on his Reprise label in 1970. Thus consitituted Lipscomb's successful 60s, playing across the States from California to Washington, D.C. Keeping his disciplined mindset, Lipscomb rarely drank or gambled, nor spent much of his earnings. Winding down his musical career in the 70s due to health difficulties, Lipscomb settled back at his home in Navasota where he passed away on January 30th, 1976.