Irma Thomas is known as the Soul Queen of New Orleans, with a string of almost-hits dating back to "You Can Have My Husband (but Please Don't Mess with My Man)" in 1959.
The Grammy winner's new disc, Simply Grand
(Rounder), pairs her with an all-star roster of pianists, including Norah Jones, Randy Newman, Ellis Marsalis, and Dr. John (who played guitar on Thomas's first single).
Play It Again:
Her home, which was damaged in Hurricane Katrina, still isn't quite furnished, but Thomas told us which CDs line the shelves in her heart.
- Mahalia Jackson, The Essential Mahalia Jackson (Sony): When I was a kid in New Orleans, there was a gospel show on the radio every morning, and Mahalia Jackson got lots of airplay. When she sang, if you didn't already have religion, you'd get it."
- John Legend, Get Lifted (Columbia): "Can I tell you who I've fallen in love with? John Legend and his voice. The younger generation doesn't necessarily know what the blues is, but he has reached back and listened to the songs that came before him, and he understands."
- Tina Turner, All the Best (Capitol): "'Nutbush City Limits'? I don't know where that is! But I know what that song's about because of the way Tina sang it. She came up at the same time Aretha Franklin and I did, but she's more of a rock 'n' roll singer—and she's still rocking at 68."