This is my 10th year enjoying the Young Leadership Council‘s Wednesday at the Square music series in Lafayette Square. We’re so spoiled for music here that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Grammy-winner Irma Thomas perform dozens of times. We got a bunch of yummy food from the booths and hung out with friends while the “The Soul Queen of New Orleans” took the stage with her band, The Professionals .
The crowd was huge for what used to be a casual afterwork day in the park with babies toddling on blankets and students playing Frisbee. This crowd was standing room only from the stage to the street on all sides. Most of my photos are taken from quite a distance. I did find WDSU weather-diva, Margaret Orr, in the crowd and we managed a blurry selfie.
In her over-50 years in the industry, Irma Thomas has been nominated for 4 Grammys, winning for After The Rain, her post-Katrina album, in 2007. She’s also accumulated 9 Blues Music Awards and was inducted to both the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.
With the Rolling Stones’ recent cancellation of their Jazz Fest 50th Anniversary appearance, it was almost ironic hearing Miss Irma sing Time Is On My Side. One of her many tunes covered by other bands, the Stones made the song a hit in 1964 – but for New Orleanians, the song belongs to Miss Irma. The Soul Queen’s voice is as pure and rich as ever, giving over nothing to age. There are many bummers about the Stones having to cancel their appearance due to Jagger’s health and we all wish him well, but people here are fairly disappointed they won’t be seeing the rumored duet of Mick Jagger and Irma Thomas singing their song together.
The concert was amazing, as usual. Plenty of Thomas’ hits and local favorites as well as her signature second line, complete with cocktail napkins passed throughout the crowd, danced to a medley of New Orleans traditionals. The band finished the evening with Galactic’s powerful Heart of Steel and Thomas’ hit, Simply the Best.
If you’d like to read more about Miss Irma’s extraordinary life, from being a teen mother of 4 to graduating college at age 60, check out my post on the Oyster Fest Day 2.