The Soul Queen of New Orleans has landed in Telluride! Her road to the mountains has been a long one, and a journey filled with hard work, heartbreak, success; the wheels turn thanks to her prodigious talent.
Irma became a mother as a teen and her energetic devotion to her children and her early affinity for singing fueled the beginning of what has turned into a career spanning 50 years. It was hardly ever easy. As a single mother, she was the breadwinner, working in New Orleans as dishwasher, cook, waitress – anything to feed her family. She got her first break when, while waitressing at a club, she asked bandleader Tommy Ridgely, if she could sing with his band. The audience loved her performance, and before too long, she had to choose between waitressing and singing. Ridgely was supportive of young Irma and her talent, and helped her get gigs around the city, as well as her first recording contract.
Allan Toussaint was an early collaborator with this gem of a singer and performer, and worked with her on numerous recordings in the early 1960s. Fortune turned away from Irma when Hurricane Camille demolished the Gulf Coast clubs where she’d been booked, and the musical trends of the 60s veered away from her style. After trying to make a go of it in California, she returned home where she’s been ever since.
She’s a Grammy winner for best contemporary blues album, and has been recognized many times for her humanitarian work in the Big Easy. To host this phenomenal singer is a profound honor. When she sings, you’ll know you are in the presence of a legend. Nothing came easy for Irma except for her voice – rich, emotive, and assured. Irma, we’re so glad your road has lead you to us!