Chris Smith was born in Charleston, South Carolina on October 12, 1879. His first experience in show business was in a medicine show. He came to New York around the turn of the century with his childhood friend and lifelong vaudeville partner, Elmer Bowman. He and Bowman penned many songs including I've Got De Blues, one of the earliest songs with blues in the title. Bowman and Smith's first big hit was "Good Morning Carrie" co-written with Cecil Mack and sung on stage by Bert Williams.
Smith colaborated on many songs during this time. Some of the most popular were He's a Cousin of Mine, Down Among the Sugar Cane and You're in the Right Church But the Wrong Pew. The latter was a hit for Bert Williams in his musical Bandana Land and was published by the first African American owned publishing company, Gotham-Attucks.
Smith continued songwriting and also did some acting as well as appeared on vaudville with his partner Elmer Bowman. In 1911 and 1912, he wrote some excellent syncopated instrumentals including the "Honky Tonk Monkey Rag." In 1914, he had his biggest hit, Ballin The Jack which was written with Jim Burris and started a dance craze that lasted the decade
Smith wrote many songs over the next 10 years, two popular numbers in the early Twenties were co-written with Jimmy Durante and it is rumored that he and Durante performed together in vaudeville after Smith's partner, Elmer Bowman died.
Though Smith's name may not be familiar to most people, he was one of the most popular and prolific songsters of the time. Smith died in New York City on October 4, 1949..