“The Soul Queen of New Orleans”
Irma Thomas first hit the charts in the 1950s as a teenager, 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, and to her stage presence. Thomas radiates 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. Her sense of pacing and rhythmic inventive is the essence of soul. She can always find a surprising way to phrase against the pulse of the rhythm section, and the sheer emotional impact of her technique stamps her as a true product of the New Orleans music world.
Irma Thomas was born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana in 1941, but Irma Thomas's 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. At age 16, while working as a cocktail waitress, she sat in one night with veteran New Orleans bandleader Tommy Ridgley and his band, the Untouchables. Ridgley was so impressed with the teenager's vocal talents that he didn't waste time getting her into the studio to record her first single, called You Can Have My Husband But Please Don't Mess With My Man, which was released on Ron Records. The song eventually climbed to the Top 30 on the R&B chart.