A figure as legendary for his influence on other musicians as for his musical output, Davis first became known as a guitar virtuoso in the 1920s, when he played frequently on the streets. Renowned for his sophisticated guitar technique and his synthesis of folk, blues, and jazz, he also possessed a deep, powerful voice that was gruff yet melodious. Religion played an important role in the life of this blind musician, exemplified by his experiences in the Carolinas as a traveling gospel preacher. He began recording in the '40s after moving to New York City (when he was already an ordained priest) and later had a profound impact on the bohemian folk music scene of the '50s. As a mentor to many folk revival musicians, Rev. Davis transmitted his style to a new generation that revered his guitar mastery and the profound simplicity of his lyrics about troubles and redemption.