Friday, January 28, 2011
Irma Lee is the Soul Queen of New Orleans. She's 69 years young now and still out there performing. Way back in 1962 she hooked up with producer Allen Toussaint and cut this record on Minit 653.
She became Irma Thomas when she married her second husband. She'd already been married twice and had four kids when she cut this record. She was only 19 years old at the time! Irma started out singing in a Baptist church choir in her home town of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, when she was 13. She worked as a waitress in New Orleans and sang part-time with bandleader Tommy Ridgley. Tommy helped get her career started with a record deal on the local Ron label. Her first single was called (You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess With My Man, released in 1960. That song reached #22 on the Billboard charts. But, for some strange reason, this song, It's Raining, did not chart at all.
After that first hit record, she got picked up by Minit Records, then later Chess Records. She ended up in California for a while where she did a few more singles on smaller local labels. After that, she moved back to New Orleans and opened her own club called The Lion's Den. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina forced her club out of business. Her Live! Simply The Best album on Rounder Records earned her a Grammy nomination in 1991. She's also released a bunch of traditional gospel albums and more secular recordings. She also got a Grammy nomination in 1999 for her Sing It! album. She was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007, the same year she was invited to sing on a tribute album to Fats Domino called Goin' Home. Irma sang I Just Can't Get New Orleans Off My Mind in a duet with Marcia Ball. That's an excellent CD that I recommend you buy right away!
One of these days I'd love to meet Irma Thomas and tell her how much I enjoy her music. I hope you like it half as much as I do!
Posted by joeknapp at 7:48 AM