Irma Thomas

Walk Around Heaven: New Orleans Gospel Soul

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During R&B's glory years -- the 1950s, '60s and '70s -- the African-American church provided one great singer after another. Church choirs served as a magnificent training ground for so many of the great soul shouters, and it clearly had a positive effect on Irma Thomas (arguably the greatest female soul singer to come out of New Orleans). At 52, Thomas celebrated her gospel heritage with this solid, heartfelt CD. Thomas' voice had held up quite well since the 1960s, and she brings an impressive range and a seemingly endless supply of emotion to songs like "Where We'll Never Grow Old," "Ask What You Will" and "Careful Hands." Walk Around Heaven reminds us that as impressive as her contributions to secular soul have been, Thomas hasn't forgotten the church.

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