October 30, 2017
The "Soul Queen of New Orleans", Irma Thomas, is set to perform tonight at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center. Thomas' career began in the late 1950's when as a twice-divorced mother of four, she began performing with New Orleans bandleader Tommy Ridgley. It was through Ridgley's connections that she was able to record her first single "You Can Have My Husband (But Don't Mess With My Man)", which went to number 22 on the Billboard R&B charts. In 1961, Thomas joined the Minit label where she worked with producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint. This collaboration led to some great songs including "It's Raining" and "Ruler of My Heart".
The 1960s were a fertile period for R&B and Soul Music. During this time Thomas would record her most well known songs including her biggest hit "Wish Someone Would Care" which landed at number 19 on the Pop Charts. Despite her immense talent, Thomas never quite reached the mainstream success that her contemporaries Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight achieved during the '60s. Though mainstream success did not quite reach Thomas, she has become a beloved musician known throughout the world, especially in her hometown of New Orleans. Her nickname the "Soul Queen of New Orleans" was actually officially bestowed upon her by city officials. In 2007, Thomas was finally awarded her first Grammy Award for her album After the Rain.
Irma Thomas will be joined by the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Preservation Hall Jazz Quintet for tonight's concert.