His name was taken from one of the most beautiful buildings on Earth, and his legend is rightfully suited for such a name.
For four decades, Taj Mahal has been a staple of blues music, a true American art form, throughout the world. He helped give birth to scores of rock 'n' roll bands that rooted their music in his stylings. Mahal will peform a sold-out show at the Savannah Music Festival on March 29 at the Lucas Theatre.
Traversing Mahal's expansive collection of music will reveal not only a thick root of blues music, but his own voyage into a plethora of genres and influences. His musical prowess is represented in more than 25 studio albums and several Grammy Awards and nominations.
In addition to his studio work, Mahal has been recorded on eight live albums, numerous compilations, movies (including "The Blues Brothers 2000"), television shows and live show DVDs.
Born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks in Harlem, Mahal is a multi-instrumental, self-taught musical titan. Breaking from the blues, his career has seen him take jaunts into world music, including sounds from West Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, India, Europe and his current home, Hawaii.
According to advertising for the Savannah Music Festival, he is slated to wield guitar, banjo, tricone, ukelele and keys, but he's also known for is harmonica playing and howling vocals.
Mahal's career has seen him involved with every staple of the blues, from Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy and Lightnin' Hopkins to, of course, the indelible Muddy Waters.
Without a doubt, patrons of the show in Savannah, and fans of Mahal, will hope for his cover of "Statesboro Blues." The tune, penned by Blind Willie McTell, was also covered by Georgians The Allman Brothers, and is No. 9 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.
Mahal's version appeared on his 1968 self-titled debut album, and was the inspiration for the 1971 Allman Brothers' cover.
Mahal's show will be accompanied by producer, composer and performing artist John Simon. Simon and Mahal worked together in a recent reunion tour of Mahal's "tuba band."
Simon's accolades include work with Simon and Garfunkel's "Bookends," as well producing the farewell concert, and 1976 documentary by Martin Scoresese, "The Last Waltz," which featured a score of musicians performing with The Band.
Simon, a native of Norwalk, Conn., has had an illustrious career in the music business that spans back to the 1960s and includes a breadth experience in rock 'n' roll, pop, television, movies and Broadway.
While some could argue which act is the best of the 2014 Savannah Music Festival, the sheer range of influence that Mahal holds on American music cannot be argued.
The 71-year old's significance in the narrative of American music, even if you're not a fan of the blues, is reason enough to attend this show.