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Steinhardt Artist-In-Residence Taj Mahal Leads Talks and Performance

Blues Legend Taj Mahal visits NYU students

Award-winning songwriter, singer, film composer, and multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal continued his role as the 2022-23 NYU/Americana Artist-in-Residence with a three-day visit to NYU Steinhardt for a series of master classes and musical exploration.  NYU alumna Leyla McCalla, a classically-trained cellist who has added singing and songwriting to her critically-acclaimed work in the Americana field, joined in the week’s events.  When the residency was announced last year, Taj Mahal said, “I’m honored to take on this role.  It’s an incredible opportunity to work with the diverse NYU student body and to explore and spread the word about the music and sounds from all over the world that are at the heart of so much of what I do and who I am.”

On Monday, March 27, Mahal and McCalla kicked off the residency at Provincetown Playhouse with 71 Generations:  A Musical Exploration of the Griot and Pan-African Traditions.  The lively evening was moderated by Smithsonian National Museum of American History curator Krystal Klingenberg.  Tuesday evening at Provincetown brought the interactive The Music That Made Me: Song Swap with Mahal, McCalla, and NYU students.

Class visits included a Tuesday session with instrumental performance students at the new Paulson Center, moderated by Professor Stephanie Baer.  Wednesday, Mahal and McCalla met with Songwriting, Screen Scoring, and Concert Composition students for a class moderated by Professors David Harris and Alonzo Harris.

Phil Galdston, Director of the Program in Songwriting, commented, “During their presentations, performance, and interactions with students, Taj Mahal, and Leyla McCalla demonstrated the universality of music and the value of individuality in pursuing a life in the field. They offered the NYU Steinhardt music community an entertaining, thought-provoking, and inspiring connection with two supremely talented and genuinely humble guests.”

Songwriting students (back, left to right) Patrick Irwin, Savannah Cribbs, Lily Gilbert, and Jackson Mansfield had the chance to learn from Artist-in-Residence Taj Mahal (front center). 

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