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Smithsonian Institution
Louisiana, Where Music is KingAmericans Old and NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
Irma Thomas

 
New Orleans has been a steady producer of r&b talent, from Fats Domino and Professor Longhair to the Neville Brothers. Irma Thomas first hit in the 1950s as a teenager, with one of the the rawest, hottest records ever to come out of the scene, "You Can Have My Husband (But Please Don't Mess with My Man)." She continued through the 1960s, with hits like "It's Raining," "Pain in my Heart," and "Time Is on My Side," later made famous by the Rolling Stones.
       Other singers of her generation have retired, or limit their appearances to festivals and oldies packages, but Thomas's reputation has only grown with the years. Today, she is hailed as the "Soul Queen of New Orleans." She continues to record well-produced albums of new material, and fills clubs and concert halls around the world. This is due both to her vaulting, churchy voice, which can be reminiscent of such other soul queens as Aretha Franklin or Patti LaBelle, and to her stage presence. Thomas radiates a southern warmth, drawing audiences into her world and making them glad they came. She is completely at home onstage, and her manner has a casual ease and humor that is instantly engaging.
       This warmth and friendliness are an equal part of Thomas's offstage persona, which has helped her hold together one of the tightest bands in contemporary New Orleans r&b. A few years ago, she and her husband opened their own club, where Thomas could hold court and greet the fans. At the Lions' Den, she is in her element, running through a tasteful mix of classic hits and new tunes, then coming offstage to greet all the old friends who have come down for the party.

Related Links

       Profile from Rounder Records
 
 

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