Born "Garrett" Mimms in Ashland, West Virginia in 1933, Mimms grew up in Philadelphia, where he sang in gospel music groups such as the Evening Stars, the Harmonizing Four, and the group with which he would record his first record in 1953, the Norfolk Four. He returned to Philadelphia after serving in the military and formed doo-wop group The Gainors in 1958.
In 1961 Mimms and Sam Bell from The Gainors left to form a new group, Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters with Zola Pearnell and Charles Boyer. The group moved to New York and began to work with the songwriter and record producer, Bert Berns. Berns signed them to the United Artists label and wrote the hit "Cry Baby" for them with songwriting partner Jerry Ragovoy. The song topped the R&B chart and went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. (Janis Joplin also had a hit with the song.)
The follow-up record, a cover of Jerry Butler & the Impressions' "For Your Precious Love," hit the pop Top 40 later that year, as did the flip side, "Baby Don't You Weep."
Mimms and the Enchanters parted ways in 1964; the group to record separately with a new lead vocalist and Mimms - known for his pleading, gospel-derived intensity made him one of the earliest true soul singers - went solo and performed another Berns and Ragovoy hit "I'll Take Good Care Of You" in 1966. Mimms worked with Jimi Hendrix in the UK the following year.
In the 1970s he released a few funk songs as Garnet Mimms and the Truckin' Co. He had his only hit in the United Kingdom at this time, when "What It Is" reached number 44 for one week on the UK Singles Chart in June 1977.
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In the 1980s, Garnet found his calling ministering to lost souls in prison, but in 2007 returned to recording, and in 2008 released a new gospel album Is Anybody Out There?
In 1999 Mimms was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.