Fairfest at the Sondheim Kicks off with the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”

Irma Thomas, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet come to Fairfield October 20.

If the French Quarter is the musical heart of New Orleans, then Preservation Hall is its heartbeat. Take the soul-drenched voice of Grammy-winning singer “Soul Queen” Irma Thomas, add the spiritual authority of six-time Grammy-winning The Blind Boys of Alabama plus the Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet, which includes some of the most revered alumni of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and you get a very special evening oozing with the Crescent City vibe, sure to raise your spirits and touch your soul Friday, October 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Fairfield’s Sondheim Theater.

“The show is truly the next best thing to being in the French Quarter,” said Rustin Lippincott, Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. “This is a show ideal for our 10th anniversary season, truly music royalty, two of the most iconic voices in southern music together on the Sondheim stage for a unique concert celebrating the enduring musical traditions of New Orleans and gospel.”

As part of New Orleans’ musical royalty, Irma Thomas is an award-winning singer with her own rich musical history. Her first single in 1960 reached the Billboard R&B charts, and from there she recorded for many labels, showcasing her soul-drenched voice. In 2007, she was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and in 2008 she was featured on the poster of the world-famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

“Ms. Thomas sings warmly and forthrightly amid the two-fisted rumbas, R&B vamps, jazz ballads and barrelhouse flourishes,” states the The New York Times in a recent review of the show. “And without getting heavy-handed, the song choices haven’t forgotten what happened to her beloved city.”

blind boys of alabama
Blind Boys of Alabama

The Blind Boys of Alabama have the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legends and modern-day innovators. These six-time Grammy Award-winners are not just gospel singers borrowing from old traditions; the group helped to define those traditions in the 20th century and almost single-handedly created a new gospel sound for the 21st.

“Seeing the Blind Boys of Alabama in concert is part living history, part concert, all uplifting experience,” proclaimed The Washington Post, “The best moments come when the group joins forces for stirring harmonies.”

Since the original members first sang together as kids in the late 1930s, including Jimmy Carter, who leads the group today, the band has persevered through seven decades to become one of the most recognized and decorated roots music groups in the world. In 2005, they released Down in New Orleans, a Grammy Award-winner for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album.

The Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet represents a tradition that started in 1961, when Preservation Hall first opened in the French Quarter. This band is comprised of some of the most revered alumni of the Hall, many of whom have toured the world with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for decades.

As the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues its exciting exploration of the boundaries of New Orleans jazz, the Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet has formed, with the help of the nonprofit Preservation Hall Foundation, aiming to maintain a connection with the traditional aspects of the Hall’s musical legacy.

Touring together for the first time, “The Heart and Soul Queen of New Orleans” featuring Irma Thomas, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Preservation Legacy Quintet, will treat audiences to a special evening filled with musical collaborations and traditional standards.

Tickets are $20–$40, and $10 for youth and students. For more information, contact the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center Ticket Office, (641) 472-2787 or visit FairfieldACC.com.