WWL>Topics>>10-10 3:10pm Angela, Irma Thomas

10-10 3:10pm Angela, Irma Thomas

Oct 10, 2013|

Angela talks to Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas about her Grammy wins and much more

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

There wasn't a time in her life she didn't say yeah we're talking about the queen of soul Irma Thomas and how lucky brush. For over five decades she's been shown that helped define the city. A voice it is at one moment all power and the next all heart. No surprise when you know the woman she uses. A mother and wife at fourteen. A Grammy winner at 65. This is a woman with a phenomenal story one of love and perseverance. And what a treat to sit down and top with a woman who has lived not an easy life but one of joy. And I mean that's from the heart you. I sent to the women earlier in my heroin you have let this incredible life but kind of before we talk about that. One of the heaviest moments for the city was when you won that Grammy and that's how to kind of take -- back to that day I want you to tell me about the drain issue awareness. What you were thinking when you walk in that building. Well the jets I was wearing was one of the few dresses that salvaged out of -- -- it. It was a beaded dress that I had voted on the top shelf in my closet room which you're familiar with. And I did a hand washing over it because it had a little. O'Connor would have animal whatever was I get a handle voice job on it and hung it outside the house and I was in Gonzales Louisiana and that's what I wanted -- -- And you feel like a million bucks outlet and if I didn't have anything you know where I was -- -- -- -- if it wasn't about the dress for me -- -- that bank that Baghdad the third nomination. And this is my third time going in I had no idea that I was gonna win it but. I was just happy to be nominated again because that's a big big it's not a big deal big deal. And so when when we arrived of course we got there you know you go to UC -- It's then the one that I received was in the early presentation I have two presentations one early in one that's on on camera. And mine was the off camera presentation. And sitting there when they got to my category and I had my -- down a message not let me you know let me be disappointed -- let me do it gracefully vessel that was that was my prayer. And we neat finish -- not the names ascended really this year many huge. And I looked at my husband who was on my right. As a -- did you just common name. Well by the time I turned to look at him he was already standing up over -- saying honey you gotta give up but I let out this blood curdling -- And I think anybody within ten miles and he probably heard it. I really just not that it didn't believe that they had actually called my name of the camp that rose screamed Whitney I. I know and when I got up to the -- to get to two accepted I looked at the young man who presented it to Vanessa did you really just say airman Thomas. And he said yes I did. You know that was a screen of it. And really fifty years yes you have contributed to this music world yes and you could just scream all you gonna take -- -- to be finally recognized and accepted by your peers because people don't realize that is not a public wouldn't nomination thing that's done among -- years. And put him to feel you know that I was worthy of receiving it was a big big deal so I united -- speech prepared or anything had his beloved something else. So today I continue an NCAA. But evidently wasn't bad no one know when you tell me anything bad about it so -- -- done all right where is that Grammy in your -- I had to literally have a -- put across my fireplace to have somewhere to put it. Because I never had a mail in my house prior to that I'd I had a wall unit that Asus sent almost my awards on. But when I got to grimacing you don't get a -- -- have. I had a metal installed all the not fireplace that that the package have some -- You mentioned about to eat you lost everything in your home. Literally except a few -- do things that I was able to salvage that we usable but it was still my -- compared to what I ahead -- and now you're back in your home. Been back since 2007. And give the commencement what you wanna go that will line up this home. It's home you know my husband had had a decision he Sammy need to make a decision what you wanna live 'cause we don't know we gonna -- made enormous it was chronic and long month. He should do what I said no we've gone right to -- on -- not so what if we going back to the long month and within two years we would that. And you know having people like -- be back. And very important psychologically to the community. I think Pete I know it was good for me -- -- -- -- -- talented super talented people -- can go anywhere you can do things he makes the choice to stay ia and come back via. Oh my gosh disappointed that the but it went back glad -- -- and you mentioned about the closet years ago this is how generous this woman is only did the talk show and after. We did one on great people's closets and she let me spend the day in her -- in my classes here do you still so. A little. And let them -- -- the great grand babies now via. -- my -- at the how many grandchildren how many great grand fifteen great fifteen grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren that spectacularly and you have the town. Yeah mentally you have. And there's a community you know we're gonna do we're going to take a break and we're gonna come back with a great Irma Thomas and I know this story but I wanna hear it again because it. Always inspires and and that is. Very humble beginnings -- and the great story of Irma Thomas right after this this is WL financial. Great hermit Thomas and re living the moment of winning that Grammy and I hope to have a while you're screaming as you're getting a -- heard the screams of people in New Orleans at the last. I just want to you know -- the story of you being so young and marrying so young fourteen and having three children the time -- seventeen from him and then you never but you never stop singing no. I mean I did for the joy do that until I realize you could get paid to do. The story if you were a waitress she was singing and I loved it's an owner said. Stop doing it yeah how -- well I think he lived to regret that. I never signed -- that though sat on the I was an issue at the Marriott hotel in India river queen announced. And either he was the brother -- -- -- was sitting down for and he sent me this note saying who he was innocent old thank you for inspiring me. Technically it is -- on health and all he was that this ship that was approved for the putting right there I thought this had to have been. Very difficult time compared to what engine and I always answered that way because. Would you know you I grew up as a survivor I mean I didn't let not having bothered me because if I didn't have images didn't have it. In the united got what I can do what I can give them what I use what I had. To benefit my family myself and moved on I mean I didn't dwell on what I didn't have those -- you never added you don't miss it. I think today we look at single mothers are an -- wonderful mother I mean that's what's so incredible you. Wonderful kids and now granted to -- but. To balance that while working while dreaming and unsure of unbecoming a professional singer. Not really should really just it was it was it it I guess when I when I tell people my faith is something actually believe in because -- -- knew what I needed to do to do and I'm doing okay. As as a young momma I was looking for a job of taking Emma families so I never thought about singing being a way to -- -- live in until I got fired for doing it in Tommy re usually. You know how I -- NC will OK I can -- you you can make this a lot of money to do it. Went up until that time I never had any aspirations to be a -- and they didn't you could make money do that I mean I've seen people on TV and I never made the connection -- you know because everybody I knew who was in the business ends up. A day job candidates. So I never made that connection and it was it was sometime later into my career that so what you that actually make a living doing what you really love doing and I love singing. You were not very young when you. Cut that first song and -- and it may 22 on the billboard on the did you make money from that's not really enough. I went on the road and ended performances and you know -- just about money from that lead and never -- -- -- the world is now. I think we hear those stories of hopelessness. That has ended -- -- I really -- record royalty until 1965. That's outrageous well they you know they sang happy that your country IQ your percentage of year -- year growth is it was like 2% and everything -- choice to use so high you gonna make any money. Everything you show respect to you anything that they do to promote that it's that record is charged back to the office. Which comes out of that artist who aren't you were the only game 2% of nothing yelled you never -- it. I. Figured that out well look -- But then you worked with that -- -- truly one of my favorite people on this earth. Is Allen Toussaint yes I mean a gentleman's gentleman. And and you all hooked up and did beautiful musical things and in -- way he's led you into what you really are pro. Yeah well it was funny because the first audition I did with -- -- didn't they didn't take me. -- auditioned with him before I want to run records. And I tease him about it all the time because typically says so I can have one minor. And Michael cook well you know it was a situation where they were looking for a specific type of bodies I don't think David he wanted to dale would females because. At that point in in the business the email says such a horrible reputation of being hard to deal with -- -- that kind of stuff but I mean you can't judge. Everybody about one two for the women. So they would they would basically looking for -- meal acts to promote on the label them and at that time they had lead though I -- in a couple others that that the you know. Promoted in did but when I came on board -- I think that was the first female on that label for the M. And Allen -- all of the -- the materials. And it was funny because that was when I crossed over as the -- that crossing over it wasn't until he and I hooked up in terms of him writing in in producing records on me that my music crossed over to the white audience. A remarkable man if you must've learned a lot from him oh we learned a lot for me since then you know cause he was quite young as well do you know that producing low and he just has an -- teenager himself. You know it's a mutual -- correct yeah. Some your songs have been recorded by others you know the Rolling Stone -- -- -- can't have you ever had an opportunity to. To talk to -- -- saying you know I did that before you. Well they -- they you are aware -- in fact when they made that decision was in 1966 when Alice touring in England. When they made that decision in fact they came to one among shows he key thin and and I make -- it came to one -- -- shows and they tell me that they -- -- it. So they've always acknowledged to thank that I had done it first it was the general public. Who took that attitude that I was -- second to do -- they didn't do their homework. Right so after a while you get to the point where you know if they haven't done in homer by the attack out of explaining I didn't do that -- about -- years. You know your your contemporaries. At that time. You're just as good as they are and yet the break didn't happen then sometimes. Timing is everything that's usually the case and I and it I didn't have that you would -- The best of management. Hammering me in and I I didn't have any guidance because here I am woman neophyte I don't know anything I'm -- I'm not left to sink. I had no clue as to the business aspects of show business. So I wanna follow whatever you know and I mean no one was really trying to -- the on the national level. One hour one minute was bought out by imperial records they brought me over to meet some agents in what had I had no one to guide me it's okay you meeting these people why am I mean I had no clues to why I was meeting these people on you to meet people we meet people in north -- So no one guided me is to say okay this is a possible -- for you know once is that. We can get a good manager for you to help you with you could no one did that. So everything I have ever learned so far has been basically try to narrow there was a gentleman and older -- who's deceased now. Named person stillwell who did a lot of local things in. And booked this year round of the local autism and in the southern area the United States but beyond that I had -- -- even he didn't really. Give me any guidance in terms of what to do career was it was just me doing that China -- I can't. Trial and -- but. What is survivor over fifty years in this business and science and Angel rock and roll and we're gonna take another break we'll be right back. With Irma Thomas stay with -- this. That's I think we are listening to the wonderful sound I am comments it's the voice of moral. It is the voice of neurons. In the commercial you were you were talking to us and I think it's very important. Earlier saying you were nigh eve you didn't know certain things and that's very understandable is how do any of us learn the way. But you must've had an innate wisdom to know early on that you could not associate yourself with drugs. That existed then in the music industry -- that was that was enough. In their radio news. To make you aware of things that we're going on around with dealing with the situation. And in back in those days I don't know if this the same today but you -- guilty by association you don't have to be used in the TP win in the company. And someone who was dealing are using you went to jail. As it for you where the puck at the perpetrate as they would say. So I just I never wanted to go to jail shall I stayed away from them I would -- by side in the dressing room I would go dress and Chicago in the ladies' bathroom. I just refused to go to jail because I didn't do anything to be Ngo for so. Guilty by association -- not I don't associate. Go somewhere else and you work hand in raising your kids young in their blood of the -- -- mother -- that the mother wit that's right. And we were also talking about. I think that the difficulty of being very young and raising children and great kids and in good kids it's a lot yeah and and yet today. You're frustrated by some of the young girls to BS I refuse to accept the people -- -- a lot of young young women are allowing themselves and to follow into. When I had my key is they didn't allow you to go to school pregnant you could not attend the public school pregnant. Now they can enhance some don't wanna go enemy in its three that there's education up and it's free to them. Got -- education higher education is free to them and then not taken advantage and they would rather wallow in their own pity. Resident and to better their own situation and I just don't buy into it. I don't want a voice what a voice and a comment. But let me say another great thing you did I think beyond -- music. -- you made up your mind. At a certain changing your life to go back to school and get a degree yes yes and you did it yes and -- one dollar. Ontario wanted to earn it if yes and you did in my -- did you graduate I was 61 when I graduate. And you put on that cap and gown and crack down we crossed the stage. I'm song at my own graduation. A son I believe that the flag and trust -- I was ten feet off the ground. It's so how was this kind of proud of myself that -- about it it took me fifteen years visit Gaza started back at point five. But stopping and starting and I wouldn't give up I stopped and restarted and a Stockton and started I was doing homework on airplanes anywhere -- -- together -- I had friends who classmates who gave me their notes and -- -- notes to -- my exams I was determined to get in and I wanted to earn it. And now it's on your wall yes and I also have a phi beta -- -- Phi beta kappa yes. Well -- -- -- that's magnificent. I'm I'm kind of proud of me that's not that being around when I'm proud of what I achieved now. It could be proud and and let everybody know you can do it takes 150 you're still I just would not give up I wouldn't give up and money I was given a doctrine -- expect those southern university in sociology. But I never called myself doctor. I have an honorary doctor but I -- common sense not to because to me bits and that I appreciate. But until -- earned it you know it's it's good it's good to know people are proud of in that aspect of life but someone who wanna -- Katrina I don't think I'm glad that this will we get a doctorate but you know I appreciate the honor but I won't put the DDR -- and the challenges that. One at a statement to your grandchildren valued education and certainly your great grandchild -- Grandma did it yeah. And Graham wants still Dylan and I mean I mean -- be in school and I'm still educating myself the issue aria. And you still have been involved we're gonna talk a little later about the many things you are still doing we are going to take yet another break we're gonna come back. And listen to sounds beautiful voice Irma Thomas this is Angela. We're talking to Herman Thomas she's just -- the most amazing thing. You feel that your voice is even better yes and is that just because -- it's like a beautiful fine tuned. Instrument. I guess this would be one way of putting it yes I mean there moments when I'm singing that -- hidden note in it in them almost -- on myself because I couldn't believe it actually hit the note. And and and that happens often because you know it's 72 year hitting notes that -- clear than when you would 22. And you wonder how it happens but I guess maturity brings about some wonderful changes so -- Wonderful changes let me -- the maturity as a good thing dictionary you are never going to retire and you are. Your schedule now is incredible yeah Friday you're going to be the first love. A great new program that. Culinary talents and her person is doing and that's going to be it's a little -- Stallone and it's sun. A legend series developed Crawford and they're going to intervene and sing again. Have you been to the gentleman you have a then -- again. But that's and it's a wonderful thing it's not I've not been but it's on rampart point nine Cleary is that he has never been and it and it's a great idea to have an upper floor you know -- -- music venue yeah. Now tell me about your grandson says grandma you got to sing at school. I'm doing I'm doing I'm doing aids fund raising funds in late Faris China elementary school their blue ribbon school in of course like all schools now they have to raise your own plans to better their situations with teaching so. I volunteered to participate for that. And early Saturday morning have to get up and sang the National Anthem to erase this one on out of Lafayette park. Enough Saturday and add to the show. That you're feeling a little tired just listen to the schedule Friday ninety going to be singing and talking it. That's just alone right then you're going to be up singing at 7 o'clock and feel a lot sooner than that yes and then that evening you -- be singing at the Lake Forest charter fund raiser right. At the rules that that's Roosevelt yes ma'am you are just on and on and on hammer would depending on that. Are a really dark unloading it. I'm loving it as long as I'm having fun and enjoy what I do will be doing. I don't think that was given his blessing to sit on some elements that don't -- absolutely don't and you know what you've got that mental now. You can feel that with other friends yeah it's not a I'm hoping to we love you Irma Thomas -- and I can break we'll be right. Okay. He's not a hermit Thomas. He hasn't accomplished everything yeah I say there's a book. And remove it because you've let an incredible life you have shared an incredible life. You continue. Your beautiful gift of music we are so appreciative of you thank you must it's been my pleasure all these years and it continues to be a pleasure for me. Thank you for being on the show -- -- and you. Now on tomorrow's show it's another open Mike show this time we're gonna talk to three of your favorite guys on the radio. Steve EG from B 97 swirled. Steve shooter from magic won a one point nine and -- from being 97. They'll talk about the hot topics in the news trends and social media and what's on their minds and viewers lately and that's all fine. Friday also what's happening around town for movies to theater festivals and more. Plus who -- fans what did your family do for the games and what's your prediction for this week. But now a WL news update with Shane -- the will be here in just a moment she's not quite there. We love chain rose and she is gonna make them mad dash here she comes. The best in news are Sheen -- Because you can afford to -- you know.