Before the Internet, classic soul artists like Irma Thomas had another avenue for maintaining a career in the national (and international) spotlight - The Blues Circuit and blues radio. In the the late 1970s when traditional soul music was in the rear view mirror of the public eye, a handful of independent record labels began cropping up under the umbrella of the genre of "the blues". Artists who were popular in the 1960s as soul musicians where dusted off, repackaged, and marketed as BLUES artists (possibly because of the popularity of The Blues Brothers movie?) and a handful of musicians from the R&B and soul era where given opportunities to launch a second phase of their careers (maybe a 3rd phase for those who tried their hand at disco).
In the 1980s and 1990s we saw "blues" releases by soul/R&B artists like Barbara Lynn, Johnny Adams, Ruth Brown, Syl Johnson, Solomon Burke, Mighty Sam McClain, Ann Peebles, Miss Lavelle White, Johnny Copeland, Bobby Bland, The Persuasions, Otis Clay, Earl King, Charles Brown, Nappy Brown, Carol Fran, Linda Hopkins, and IRMA THOMAS. Irma became the queen of that scene and was able to keep building a niche fan base until the Internet, satellite radio, vinyl revival, and the soul dance party resurgence all worked together to make her a superstar amongst a new generation of hipsters.
All of this is great news, because if there is anyone who deserves to be appreciated for her artistry, it's Irma Thomas! She's been busting her butt in the music industry non-stop for at least 55 years!
Like Baby Washington, Irma Thomas is one of those artists who sings for the outsiders, the dejected, the rejected, the misunderstood, the under-appreciated. We've all been there (some of us more than others) and those are the times when we're at our most vulnerable. Perhaps that's why the voice of Irma Thomas is able to seep it's way deep into our damaged hearts, do a little spackling, and prepare it for permanent repair.
I've chosen one of Irma's uptempo positive tunes for my record of the day. It's from her Allen Toussaint-produced era. I have a soft spot for Allen, what can I say. This song was written by him and is representative of the New Orleans soul sound of the early 1960s.
I love you Irma. Thank you for 55 years of providing musical therapy for wounded hearts.