#1074: I Am What I Am by Lois Fletcher

Peak Month: April 1974
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #14
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

In the early sixties Lois Fletcher appeared on a Canadian variety show. This led to some performances at coffee houses in Greenwich Village in New York City. After Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels saw her, she was invited to join his other folk troupe, The Back Porch Majority. Sparks had co-written “Green Green” for the New Christy Minstrels with Barry McGuire. The Back Porch Majority were meant to be a kind of junior league folk group whose stars might get the nod to join the New Christy Minstrels. But the Back Porch Majority outdid themselves releasing six albums and seven singles between 1964 and 1966. Among their very minor hits was “Honey and Wine” written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and “That’s The Way It’s Gonna Be” They performed at the White House for President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady, Ladybird Johnson. Among their troupe were Mike Settle and Kin Varsey who joined with Kenny Rogers to form the First Edition of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” fame. Lois Fletcher was another member of the Back Porch Majority who later released several singles. However, her only hit was a 1974 tune called “I Am What I Am”.

“I Am What I Am” was first a hit in 1972 in England by a reggae group called Greyhound. It was their third Top 20 hit in the UK after their debut Top Ten hit “Black and White” the former song was covered a year later by Three Dog Night whose version went to #1 in the USA in 1972.

The composers of the song were Richard Kerr and Scott English. Kerr was from England and English was from America. Kerr wrote a number of songs for Barry Manilow including one he penned with Scott English originally called “Brandy”. It was later retitled “Mandy” for Barry Manilow and became a #1 hit. Kerr also co-wrote other hits for Manilow, “Looks Like We Made It” and “Somewhere In the Night”. Kerr also wrote “I Know We’ll Never Love This Way Again” for Dionne Warwick.

Scott English had a regional doo-wop hit in Los Angeles, Ohio and New England in 1963 called “High on a Hill“. In 1968 he co-wrote the Top Ten hit for the American Breed called “Bend Me Shape Me“. He also co-wrote “Help Me Girl” for the Animals in 1966. English also wrote a number of songs for the rock band Thin Lizzy in the seventies.

 

Lois Fletcher - I Am What I Am 45 (Playboy Canada).jpg

Once Lois Fletcher heard “I Am What I Am” by Greyhound she was interested in cutting a recording of it for release in her native Canada.

I am what I am, yes, I’m one of the people
I scheme and I dream and I try
I am what I am, yes, I’m one of the people
I’m happy to live ’til I die
I’m happy to live ’til I die

I can look at the world with the most understanding
From my tenement flat on the second landing
It’s been raining today but I really don’t care
I’ve got sun in my heart and a daydream to share
Yes, I have

I am what I am, yes, I’m one of the people
I scheme and I dream and I try
I am what I am, yes, I’m one of the people
I’m happy to live ’til I die
I’m happy to live ’til I die

I believe in the end when the roll call’s taken
We’ll be laughing together without hesitation
I’ve been known by some to be a dreamer of sorts
But I’ll follow the road and I’m happy of course
Yes, I am

I am what I am, yes, I’m one of the people
I scheme and I dream and I try
I am what I am, yes I’m one of the people
I’m happy to live ’til I die
I’m happy to live ’til I die

I’ve been happy, I’ve been sad
Sometimes good, sometimes bad
But I am what I am, yes, I’m one of the people
I scheme and I dream and I try
I am what I am, yes I’m one of the people
I’m happy to live ’til I die
I’m happy to live ’til I die .

Fletcher’s treatment of the song is less reggae and more zydeco influenced with harmonica, juice harp, washboard, piano and guitar. Her song peaked at #14 in Chicago and Vancouver. It made the Top 20 in Houma, Louisiana. However, it didn’t crack the Billboard Hot 100. She had a follow up single that was a cover of the calypso tune by Harry Belafonte from the late 50s called “Man Smart, Woman Smarter”. However, it failed to chart. If anyone knows anything more about Lois Fletcher, drop me a line. There is very little information about her, including where in Canada she grew up or any publicity photos as a solo recording artist.

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