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New CD Traces Blues Singer Irma Thomas' Years with Rounder Records - 2001-06-20

The "Soul Queen of New Orleans," Irma Thomas. Born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, Thomas had her first hit in 1959. More success came when she moved to California, and recorded "Time Is On My Side," made famous by the Rolling Stones in 1964. Homesick for New Orleans, Thomas returned to Louisiana, where she continues to perform and record her signature blend of blues and soul.

A new CD traces Irma's 16-year career on her current label, Rounder Records. The new CD is called "If You Want It, Come And Get It," named after a tune from Irma Thomas' recent release "My Heart's In Memphis."

Irma's heart will always be in Louisiana, where she was discovered singing at the Pimlico nightclub in New Orleans. Only 17, she was hired by R&B bandleader Tommy Ridgley, who encouraged her to record her first single, "You Can Have My Husband (But Please Don't Mess With My Man)." An R&B hit in 1959, it is still one of Irma's most-requested songs.

The new compilation begins with Irma Thomas' 1985 debut on Rounder Records, "The New Rules" written by Paul Kelly. Thomas also pays tribute to songwriters Dan Penn, Doc Pomus, Tony Joe White, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint who once said he heard Irma's voice when he wrote.

Allen Toussaint composed some of Irma Thomas' best-known hits in the 1960s. The two joined forces again in 1987 on "Old Records," one of 10 songs from Irma's second Rounder album "The Way I Feel." Follow-up releases include a live recording, a gospel album and the Grammy-nominated collaboration with singers Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson, "Sing It!" "Yield Not To Temptation" features Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson.

Irma Thomas celebrated her 60th birthday earlier this year. In May, she was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame. Next month she'll perform at a blues festival in Sardinia, Italy, with a return to the U.S. in August for a pair of concerts in Cambridge, Massachusetts.