Smith, Chris (1879-1949)

Born in Charleston; traveled with a medicine show before settling down in New York; teamed up with his boyhood friend, Elmer Bowman (1879-1916) and began a successful two-man vaudeville team; he wrote songs for successful black entertainers and vaudeville including the lyricist, Cecil Mack (R.C. McPherson); his first songwriting success was “Good Morning, Carrie”; other songs he composed and in collaboration with others were “All in Down and Out” (1906), “Down Among the Sugar Cane” and “You’re in the Right Church but the Wrong Pew” (both in 1908) with Cecil Mack – the latter of which was made popular by Bert Williams (some speculate that this tune may well have been the source of “You’ve Got the Right String Baby but the Wrong Yo-Yo”; with lyricist, Jim Burris, he wrote “There’s a Big Cry-Baby in the Moon,” “Come After Breakfast,” “Bring ‘Long Your Lunch and Leave ‘Fore Supper Time,” and “Transmagnificanbamdamuality (or C-A-T Spells Cat)”; with and for Bert Williams’ stage performances, he composed “Constantly,” and “If He Comes In, I’m Going Out”; composed the fox trot, “Ballin’ the Jack” (1913) with James Reese Europe (lyrics by Jim Burris) that created the dance craze; “Never Let the Same Bee Sting You Twice” and “San Francisco Blues,” his first commercial ventures that placed him in the league with W.C. Handy; “I’ve Got My Habits On” (1921 with Jimmy Durante); and “If You Sheik on Your Mama, Your Mama’s Gonna Sheba on You” (1924); his songs were also recorded by Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and Clarence Williams; Smith’s “Lookin’ for Another Sweetie” (1929) was recorded by Fats Waller & His Buddies but was stolen and reappeared with new lyrics under the title “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You),” now credited to Doc Daughtery, Al J. Neiburg and Ellis Reynolds; after this disappointment, little is known about Smith’s life; he passed away in New York City.

Image Gallery

Selected Albums


HOME | ABOUT | MUSICIANS | COLLECTION | EVENTS | NEWS | PROJECTS | SHOP | CONTACT        all images © CJI /CofC unless noted

Charleston Jazz Initiative
c/o Arts Management Program
School of the Arts, College of Charleston
66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424
843-953-5474 (phone)
843-953-7068 (fax)
email »