Chris Smith (14)
Smith was born in Charleston, South Carolina; In his late teens he traveled with a black medicine show playing piano and possibly singing. Smith teamed up with his boyhood friend Elmer Bowman. Their two-man vaudeville team was successful enough to warrant a move to New York, where Smith found plenty of work writing songs for some of the most popular and successful black entertainers. An early professional alliance was created with lyricist Cecil Mack (aka R.C. McPherson), with whom he wrote several songs. Smith's first notable success, "Good Morning, Carrie," written with Bowman and Mack, was published in 1901. By 1913, seemingly at the peak of his powers, Smith composed "Fifteen Cents," set words to Charles "Luckey" Roberts' "Junk Man Rag," and wrote "Ballin' the Jack," a fox trot with lyrics by Jim Burris.
Throughout his career he also collaborated with Bert Williams, Jim Burris, Jimmy Durante, and Jolly John Larkins. Smith continued writing and publishing music through the rest of the 1910s and into the 1920s. In 1929 Fats Waller And His Buddies recorded Smith's "Lookin' for Another Sweetie." Within a few years, the melody had been hijacked and reappeared with new lyrics under the title "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)," now credited to Doc Daugherty, Al Neiburg & Ellis Reynolds. It's not clear if Smith was bought out, had fallen out of the music business, or had simply lost control of his own catalog. The remaining years of his life are shrouded in mystery up to his death in 1949.