As far as I’m aware this single is the only one that Elaine Garrett made, and finding an issue copy is all but impossible. No matter though as there's only the one track featured on it – but what a beauty it is. Not just thanks to Elaine’s superb interpretation of the plaintive lyrics (just love that part about “I don’t give you no static”) but also the memorable melody and luscious arrangement courtesy of Al Johnson. The songwriter was the talented Dan Brantley.
Thanks to Dave Porter for the pic of the issue copy of this one - doesn't it look lovely?
UPDATE ~ My great friend Greg Burgess has written with the wonderful news that Elaine herself has been in touch with many more details of here life and musical career, as well as providing some lovely pictures. Elaine says:-
"Clarence (Carter) knew Sonny Woods and learned that Sonny became an acquaintance of mine in 1967, when he worked as DJ at my high school in Greenville, SC. Clarence contacted me through Sonny, sent his bus driver to Charlotte, NC with a moving truck and moved me to Atlanta, Ga. I traveled on the road with Clarence for a couple of years as a solo opening act, followed by a trio of female singers of which I was the lead. Clarence Carter wanted to sign me to a 15 year contract around 1975. I was not comfortable with that idea, since I had requested a cost of living raise with no results. So I decided to move on to work with other local bands, and was able to negotiate my fees.
"What About Me" was a one-off. Sonny knew that I was determined to find a way to record and while working with RCA records as a promoter, he also worked behind the scenes, contacting those in the record business on my behalf. In 1977, I spent a couple of months in Greenville, SC with my mom who had injured her wrist and needed my help around home. Sonny called me in mid February and told me he had tracks to a song he wanted me to record. So I quickly returned to Atlanta. At first I was reluctant to do the song because of the lyrics. (I didn't approve of the idea conveyed; that this was a song about adultery.) But Sonny convinced me to hang in there and in his words, "get off the ground first". I never met the musicians who recorded the tracks. There was a demo which was slightly more upbeat. Sunny had the musicians to slow the tempo down just a little to capture the soul and, in my opinion, the emotional heartbeat of the song. I never met the musicians who recorded the tracks. I remember listening intensely to the tracks for days until it felt as if I were in the same place, in the same room with the musicians; sensing the pulse of each instrument. The finished product was nothing like the demo. And I must admit I was finally pleased with it.
After the recording was done, Sonny went to work to get it pressed. Will and I traveled with Sonny to different record stations in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee to promote the record. Sonny also visited stations in Detroit and in the east and north east portion of the states. In 1982, I was on the brink of signing a contract with RCA Records, when Sonny unexpectedly died in his sleep of a heart attack. I tried desperately to reach those whom Sonny had been in contact with but did not get a response. When Sonny died the negotiations died with him. Something went wrong and I don't have a clue as to what really happened. I was deeply crushed.
I continued to work with local bands in Atlanta, one of which traveled with Johnny Taylor; so I was an opener for a few of his shows. I commuted to Birmingham, Alabama to a nightclub where I performed solo shows and often opened shows for several artist such as Z. Z. Hill, Latimore and Joe Simon, to name a few. I later moved on to work with Candi Staton for at least a year; well into the time of her crossover into gospel music. I performed on shows with, such as Bobby "Blue" Bland, The Drifters, The Manhattans, Betty Swann and the late Jackie Wilson.
In 1984, I started gravitating more towards the jazz flavor of music. That's when I decided to use Lainee as my stage name. (Moving the capital E in Elaine to the end in lower case.) I worked in hotels, restaurants and lounges for several years. My last gig in Atlanta, (2004) was at the Ritz Carlton-Buckhead where I worked in the jazz series on weekends for several years. I also worked as assistant director of the gospel choir at the church I attended.
In September of 2004, I moved back to my home here in Greenville, SC to be closer to my parents; dad is 87 and mom is 84. I have no regrets of making the move back; I think it was the right thing to do. I've worked with local bands here and still do on occasion when a gig comes up. I've performed with the Carolina Pops Orchestra, and was cast in a live musical called "Rock and Roll Heaven" at Centre Stage, here in Greenville, in the spring of 2010."
I'm really grateful to Elaine for taking the time/trouble to write, and for the wonderful photos. As always I'm grateful to Greg too for his research and assistance.
What about me / Inst ~ GREEDY 112 (1977)
FURTHER UPDATE ~ Elaine has very kindly sent her biography :-
Elaine Garrett is currently the Administrative Assistant in the Music Department of the South Carolina Governor’s School of Arts and Humanities. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, she began singing at age 3, graduated from Sterling High School, and received a BA degree in psychology at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. After graduation, she worked as an in-house counselor at an institution for emotionally challenged youth in Mecklenburg County, and performed with local groups on alternate weekends. Her passion for singing led Elaine to Atlanta, Georgia where she started a career traveling and performing with several popular recording artists such as Clarence Carter, Candi Staton and B.B. King, to name a few. She has traveled the intercontinental USA and abroad in concerts, the most memorable performances in Germany and Israel. Over a 25 year period in Atlanta, she has gained experience working as a jazz vocalist, an assistant site manager in public housing, and also as an assistant choir director in her church. Since returning to Greenville, Elaine has performed with jazz musicians in the Jazz on the Main Series, Artisphere, the Handlebar, and special events in upstate establishments. She has also performed with the Carolina Pops Orchestra at Thornblade. Although she has blues, country and reggae songs in previous repertoires, as a song stylist, her current focus is gospel and jazz.