High Five

Irma Thomas’s accomplishments

Rick Olivier

A few years ago soul singer Irma Thomas celebrated her 50th anniversary as a recording artist, a milestone that has brought her numerous awards (including a Grammy) and a loyal fan base that extends well beyond her native New Orleans.

Ahead of her performance this weekend at Paulie’s New Orleans Jazz & Blues Festival, we asked Thomas to reflect on five highlights of her long and distinguished career. Except she wasn’t keen on that idea.

“That’s difficult for me because I don’t really analyze what I do to that extent. To me, my total career has been a learning experience, and you’re always learning,” she said, rather sweetly, before considering another option.


What about five things she still wants to accomplish? Deal.

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1. “I want to finish my [memoir]. I’ve started it, but I haven’t completed it because things keep happening that I need to put in it.”

2. “I’d like to record a Christmas album. I’ve never done one of those by myself. I’ve been on other albums where they did a compilation of other singers and included something I did.”

3. “I would enjoy doing a record with Bonnie Raitt.”

4. “I want to record another gospel album. I made one back in 1996, ‘Walk Around Heaven: New Orleans Gospel Soul,’ with a lot of older gospel songs that you don’t hear anymore.”


5. “I’d like to live to 100 and still be able to sing.”


Irma Thomas headlines Paulie’s New Orleans Jazz & Blues Festival at Keystone Plaza in Worcester on Sunday, 8 p.m. Full itinerary for the festival, which runs Friday through Sunday, is at Tickets: $15-$50 (single and two-day passes) and $65 (three-day pass).

James Reed can be reached at