Ricky Skaggs won't turn 60 until July, but he already has put more than 50 years into the music business.

He started at the age of 5 when his father, Hobert, gave him a mandolin. Hobert had heard the boy harmonizing with his mother from across the house as he played with his toys.

At the time, Hobert taught his son the C, D and G chords. He was stunned when he returned from working out of town to see his son making chord changes and singing along.

"I didn't know at the time when I first started playing, but within a few years getting into it, I realized I had a real gift for music," Skaggs says. "Music was something I was good at, and music made me happy when I played and sang it."

By the time he was 6, Skaggs had earned such a strong local reputation, he was invited on stage to play mandolin and sing with the legendary Bill Monroe. At 7, Skaggs appeared on television with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

Today, Skaggs says he had no idea how unusual that was.

"I knew that they were big stars in my little eyes, but I had no idea how truly famous they were," he says.

"Bill Monroe started the music we now know as bluegrass, and Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt were in the band with him making those historic recordings for Columbia Records in 1946.

"But this little kid didn't know all that," Skaggs says. "All I knew was I loved them and the music they were making."

Skaggs was just 7 when he asked to audition for the Grand Ole Opry, but was told he was too young. It wasn't until 1982 that he became the youngest performer at that time to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

As a teenager, Skaggs met Keith Whitley, also a prodigy, and the two started playing together with Whitley's brother, Dwight, on radio shows. By 1970, they were opening for Ralph Stanley.

Soon, Skaggs and Whitley were invited to join Stanley's band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. Skaggs later joined The Country Gentlemen and played with J.D. Crowe's New South.

In the late 1970s, Skaggs turned his attention to country music, first as a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band and later as an individual recording artist. He remained at the top of the country charts throughout the 1980s and had 12 No. 1 hits.

Skaggs has won dozens of awards, including an astonishing 14 Grammy Awards. With his band, Kentucky Thunder, he's at the forefront of the roots revival.

Members of Kentucky Thunder include Andy Leftwich on fiddle, Cody Kilby on lead guitar, Paul Brewster on tenor vocals and rhythm guitar, Eddie Faris on baritone vocals and rhythm guitar and Scott Mulvahill on bass and bass vocals.

In 1997, Skaggs formed his own record label, Skaggs Family Records. Its first release was his album, "Bluegrass Rules!," which broke sales records and earned Skaggs his sixth Grammy Award and an International Bluegrass Music Association Album of the Year Award.

Recently, Skagg's autobiography, "Kentucky Traveler," was released.

"I wasn't getting any younger, so I thought I'd better write it while I could still remember it," he says. "I already know there are quite a few things that I didn't write in the book that have come to me since 'Kentucky Traveler' has been released.

"It took me over two years to do it. I've never had a baby, but I can tell you it was truly a birthing experience.

"I've had so many great comments from friends and colleagues in the music industry, not just bluegrass," Skaggs says. "It's been overwhelming. I'm so grateful that people have taken the time to read it."

The book has gotten critical praise, too.

"The Bluegrass Music School at East Tennessee State University is going to use it in their classes next year," Skaggs says. "That's very cool to me."

Although Skaggs has won lots of awards in his career, that's not what he's about.

"It is exciting to win awards, but I never got into the music business to win awards or to sell lots of records," he says. "I got into the business because I love it, and thank God I still love it after all these years, maybe more now than ever."

At the Savannah Music Festival, up-and-coming bluegrass singer, mandolinist and guitarist Sierra Hull will open the show. Now 22, she was signed to Rounder Records at the age of 13 and released her debut album, "Secrets," in 2008 at the age of 16.

A native of Tennessee, Hull is the first bluegrass musician to ever receive the Presidential Scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music.

"I love seeing young people get turned on to this music and want to know more about it," Skaggs says. "That encourages me to stay with it, and to be happy being an elder and teacher, one that can inspire and encourage.

"When it comes to being honored, I think of all the great teachers I've had that will never get honored on this side of heaven, but someday they will, where the awards will never tarnish or fade," he says. "I always try to keep a thankful heart for the honors and awards."

The Savannah Music Festival show has already sold out, and Skaggs is looking forward to coming.

"Kentucky Thunder will be with me, most certainly," he says. "They're the best bluegrass band around, I think.

"We will be doing songs from one of my most recent CDs, 'Music To My Ears,'" Skaggs says. "Also, we'll do some things from the live CD called 'Cluck Ol' Hen' that we recorded with my friend, Bruce Hornsby."

Naturally, there'll be some music from Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers.

"Probably a few gospel tunes, as well," Skaggs says. "It will be a fun show.

"I'll talk about my book and tell stories about my dad and mom," he says. "It won't be boring, I promise."