2010 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first hit single by legendary soul singer Irma Thomas. Irma has had a long-standing reign as "The Soul Queen Of New Orleans."
Irma Thomas was only 19 years old and working as a cocktail waitress when she recorded (You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess With My Man. The song reached the Top 30 on the R&B chart, and led to a contract with Minit Records in her native New Orleans, Louisiana.
At the time, Irma was a single mother, working at every opportunity to support her four children. She credits her longevity to raising a family when she was just breaking into show business. She says, "I wanted my kids to grow up with a mom, not a diva."
Irma continued to have success on both the pop and R&B charts in the 1960s, with her biggest hit coming in 1964, Wish Someone Would Care. She was one of Imperial Records' best-selling artists, but when sales began to wane in the late-1960s, compounded by the devastating effects of Hurricane Camille on many of the clubs in New Orleans where she worked, she announced her semi-retirement from music.
Irma invested her time wisely, earning a business degree and opening her own nightclub called The Lion's Den near the city's French Quarter. In 1986, she re-ignited her singing career with her debut album for Rounder Records, The New Rules.
Irma Thomas blends the old with the new on The Soul Queen of New Orleans: 50th Anniversary Celebration. The compilation highlights her Rounder Records catalogue, including the title track from The New Rules, a song from her 2007 Grammy Award-winning album After The Rain, and three brand new tunes.
Irma, who was recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, says retirement is not an option for her right now. Looking back, she adds, "I know 50 years is a long time, but when you're doing something you really love, you don't think about the years."