Queen of Soul reigns _lowres

Advocate photo by Robert Wright -- A few dozen women gathered at the JW Marriott downtown on Thursday afternoon to witness the crowning of the 2015 FestiGals' Grand Diva Irma Thomas. As Grand Diva, Thomas led the annual Stiletto Stroll down historic Canal Street on Saturday, June 13. FestiGals is a New Orleans based women's weekend that takes bonding time with the girls to a new level. In its fifth year,

Grammy Award-winner Irma Thomas was crowned the Grand Diva of this year’s FestiGals events.

About 2,000 women took part in the fifth annual FestiGals that included the Bodacious Bras for a Cause luncheon and the annual Stiletto Stroll second-line parade.

More than 26 events over the four-day weekend gave women the opportunity to be inspired, network and celebrate their strength.

This year’s event surpassed its goal, and $45,000 was raised for the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans and Breastoration, an organization that supports women undergoing treatment for cancer.

Thomas was hailed as a “beacon of survival” in her personal and professional career, by FestiGal organizers. Known locally as the “Queen of Soul,” Thomas shared her story with participants as a “Journey of a Musical Lifetime.”

She joins an impressive list of Grand Divas as locals Kelly Schultz, Margarita Bergen and Lisa Sins have also held the title. For more information visit festigals.org.