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Live at the Guthrie: Irma Thomas, Blind Boys of Alabama, Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet
Soul Queen of New Orleans
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The Dakota and Live at the Guthrie Present
If the French Quarter is the musical heart of New Orleans, then Preservation Hall is its heartbeat. Take a group of long-time performers from the venerable concert hall, combine them with the Crescent City’s “Soul Queen” Irma Thomas, throw in the spiritual authority of The Blind Boys of Alabama, and you get a very special evening of music that showcases “The Heart and Soul Queen of New Orleans.”
As part of New Orleans’ musical royalty, Irma Thomas is a Grammy Award-winning singer with her own rich musical history. Her first single in 1960 reached the Billboard R&B charts and from there she recorded for many labels, including Chess and Rounder Records. Her soul-drenched voice can be heard on the Allen Toussaint-produced track “It’s Raining,” which was featured in the Jim Jarmusch’s cult classic, “Down By Law.” In 2007, she was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame; and in 2008, she was featured on the poster of the world-famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The Blind Boys of Alabama have the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legends and modern-day innovators. These Six-time Grammy Award-winners are not just gospel singers borrowing from old traditions; the group helped to define those traditions in 20th century and almost single-handedly created a new gospel sound for the 21st. Since the original members first sang together as kids in the late 1930s (including Jimmy Carter, who leads the group today), the band has persevered through seven decades to become one of the most recognized and decorated roots music groups in the world. In 2005, they released “Down in New Orleans,” a Grammy Award-winner for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album.
The Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet represents a tradition that started in 1961, when Preservation Hall first opened in the French Quarter. This band is comprised of some of the most revered alumni of the Hall, many of whom have toured the world with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band for decades. As the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues its exciting exploration of the boundaries of New Orleans jazz, the Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet has formed, with the help of the non-profit Preservation Hall Foundation, to help maintain a connection with the traditional aspects of the Hall’s musical legacy.
Touring together for the first time, “The Heart and Soul Queen of New Orleans” featuring Irma Thomas, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and The Preservation Legacy Quintet, will treat audiences to a special evening filled with musical collaborations and traditional standards.
About Irma Thomas
The Soul Queen of New Orleans is celebrating 50 years of Grammy-winning performing. A New Orleans R&B icon since the 1960s, Irma Thomas is one of the great ambassadors of Crescent City culture. She won a Grammy Award in 2007 for Best Contemporary Blues Album, the same year she was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. As she has done since the early 1960s, Thomas performs all over the world at notable blues and jazz festivals, and over 50 years into her career she is making it clear her best work is not behind her.
Thomas started her recording career at a young age, and her first single, “(You Can Have My Husband but) Don’t Mess with My Man,” was released in spring 1960. Working with Gulf Coast legend Allen Toussaint, she recorded a string of national R&B hits, including “It’s Raining,” “Ruler of my Heart” and “Time Is on My Side,” (a single that inspired the more famous version by the Rolling Stones). Since signing with Rounder Records in the mid-80s she’s released a series of acclaimed gospel and soul albums, including 2006’s Grammy Award-winning After The Rain, a session embodying her hometown’s resilience and enduring soul.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“She remains one of America’s most distinctive and classic singers, a treasure from the golden age of soul music who remains as compelling and powerful as ever…” –Rounder Records
“The woman known as the Soul Queen of New Orleans is a national treasure.” — People
“Thomas is in the stylistic neighborhood of Aretha Franklin, with a spark of Southern-fried moxie.” — Wall Street Journal