New Orleans soul queen to appear at Opera House

By Katherine Miller


CROWLEY – Irma Thomas, known as the soul queen of New Orleans, will be performing at the Grand Opera House of the South this Friday night. “We would like to call this our soft grand opening,” said Kim Gielen Gattle, Executive Director of the Opera House. “We are so excited to have such a legend of Louisiana be a part of this special event,” Gattle added.

Gattle was also excited to announce that Thomas has recently released her new album “Simply Grand”, which is perfect in conjunction with the soft opening events.

Born in Ponchatoula, Irma was raised in New Orleans. Early influences on her musical career were Mahalia Jackson, Pearl Bailey, Cecil Gant, The Five Blind Boys and Percy Mayfield. As a teenager, she began by singing in a gospel quartet in her church, but her first recording was a school song.

A few years later, she was discovered by Tommy Ridgley, while working as a waitress at a club in downtown New Orleans in the year 1959. From there, Ridgley became her agent, as she landed her first recording contract with Ron records. Irma’s debut single, “You can have my husband, but please don’t mess with my man”, which made its way to number 22 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1960.

Although Thomas never crossed over to mainstream commercial success, she has had many singles that have made it on the billboards’ chart. In the late 1980’s, she opened her own club, the Lion’s Den in New Orleans.

After a long break from recording, in 1991 Thomas won her first Grammy nomination for “Live! Simply the Best”, and in 1999 was nominated again for a Grammy for the album “Sing It!” To much avail, last year, Thomas was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Ticket for Thomas’ performance at the soft grand opening of the Opera House this Friday, September 26 at 7 p.m. are $50 and may be obtained by calling the Opera House at 785-0040.

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