NPR Music’s “Profile: Irma Thomas.”

Irma THOMAS – Wish Someone Would Care 1964LP-9266

NPR Music’s “Profile: Irma Thomas.”

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  • Rick Olivier is acclaimed for capturing compelling and original images of Louisiana musicians, such as "Irma Thomas," a silver gelatin photograph made in 1995, measuring 11 x 14 inches.

    The 'drip-drop' ballad, It's Raining, is today one of the most well-known Irma Thomas tunes, and it was also her best seller since Don't Mess With My Man, even though it didn't chart. (I Did My Part is a rolling uptempo one on the back).

  • Hobbs, Holly. "Irma Thomas." KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 21 Aug 2013. Web. 14 July 2016.

    The unrivaled Soul Queen of New Orleans -- a title officially bestowed by local officials, no less -- Irma Thomas ranks among Crescent City R&B's greatest and most enduring musical ambassadors, never enjoying the coast-to-coast commercial success of contemporaries like Aretha Franklin and Etta James but nevertheless breathing the same rarified air in the minds of many soul music aficionados. Born Irma Lee in Ponchatoula, LA, on February 18, 1941, as a teen she sang with a Baptist church choir, even auditioning for Specialty Records as a 13-year-old. A year later, she gave birth to her first child, marrying the baby's father and subsequently giving birth to another child before the union dissolved. At 17 she wed again, this time to one Andrew Thomas, having two more babies before she again divorced, all before the age of 20. Keeping her second ex-husband's surname, Thomas went to work as a waitress at New Orleans' Pimlico Club, occasionally sitting in with bandleader Tommy Ridgley. When the club's owner dismissed her for spending more time singing than waiting tables, Ridgley agreed to help her land a record deal, setting up auditions with the local Minit and Ronn labels. The latter issued her saucy debut single, "You Can Have My Husband (But Don't Mess with My Man)," in the spring of 1960, and the record quickly reached the number 22 spot on the Billboard R&B chart. However, Thomas accused Ronn of withholding royalties and after one more effort for the label, "A Good Man," she briefly landed with the Bandy label, releasing 1961's "Look Up" before relocating to Minit.


  • © Joseph A. Rosen


    IRMA THOMAS

     An audience with the Soul Queen of New Orleans

    by
    John Sinclair

    In that same way, it may be forever impossible to listen to Irma Thomas’ beautiful After The Rain and not be flooded with images of Hurricane Katrina and its devastating tangible and psychological impact on the country. It was feared that Thomas, a New Orleans native, might have lost her life in the storm. This was quite obviously not the case; she was on tour at the time of the storm.

Irma Thomas - Sendin' some Soul to Spain

She was born in Ponchatoula, in 1941, but Irma Thomass childhood was short-lived. She had her first child at age 14, and was a mother of four and twice divorced by the time she was 19. As a girl, Thomas admired Pearl Bailey and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and was fired twice from waitress jobs for singing at work.