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"Irma's Sound" on Music Inside Out

Rick Olivier


More than six billion people live on the planet, and yet relatively few human voices are recognizable to the naked ear.

Irma Thomas has one of those voices.

For more than 50 years, Thomas has written, recorded and lent her voice to some of the most precious songs that Louisiana has ever produced. Now music lovers all over the world know the contralto that she calls, "Irma's sound." This week, Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins makes way for the Queen of New Orleans Soul.

Keep it down, y'all. Miss Irma is speaking.


Music Playlist

James Booker

(You Can Have my Husband But) Don't Mess with My Man
Irma Thomas

Hip Shakin' Mama
Irma Thomas

Wish Someone Would Care
HBO's Treme

Wish Someone Would Care
Irma Thomas

Wish Someone Would Care
Irma Thomas

Lipstick Traces
Benny Spellman

In the Middle of it All
Irma Thomas

It's a Man's-Woman's World
Irma Thomas

Irma Thomas

If I Had and Sense I'd Go Back Home
Irma Thomas & Dr. John

Hold Me While I Cry
Irma Thomas

Heart of Steel (feat. Irma Thomas)

Boogie Chillen'
John Lee Hooker

Back in the Saddle Again
Gene Autry

Ask What You Will
Irma Thomas

True Believer
Irma Thomas

This episode of Music Inside Out was produced by Lynette Johnson, Margaret Howze, Jason Rhein, Rachael Buckley and Seán Collins. Engineers are Jenni Lawson and Thomas Walsh.

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Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.