Arthur Smith Among 2010 Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame Inductees

Arthur Smith of Charlotte, N.C. was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame at Dollywood recently in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
“Arthur was exposed to music at an early age,” said SGMA executive director Charlie Waller . “In 1929, at the age of eight years, he was teaching guitar and at 15 he was developing his trademark guitar licks with his own band and show on WOLS radio in Florence, SC.”
Smith was born in 1921 in Kershaw, S.C. and he recorded his first music for RCA Bluebird in September 1938, under the direction of famed talent scout Eli Oberstein, Waller said.
“Arthur moved to Charlotte in 1943 and became a member of the WBT radio’s ‘Carolina Hayride,’” he said. “Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks broadcast a daily program, ‘Carolina Calling’ heard live coast to coast on the CBS Radio Network. On another original radio program ‘The Country Store’ Arthur and his brothers Sonny and Ralph featured a mixture of music and country comedy.”
Arthur Smith hosted the first live broadcast of an entertainment program on WBTV, the first television station in the Carolinas, Waller said.
“Eventually, Arthur hosted and served as executive producer of this syndicated show, which aired on 90 stations coast to coast,” he said. “Smith’s most enduring accomplishments may be as a composer. While in boot camp during World War II, he wrote and recorded a jazzy guitar instrumental called ‘Guitar Boogie.’ The recording sold over a million copies and rocketed to the top of the country charts – the first instrumental to do so and then crossed over to the pop charts, again rising to number one.
“He worked up a banjo duet in 1955, ‘Feudin’ Banjos,’ which Warner Brothers later re-titled as ‘Dueling Banjos’ for the 1973 film ‘Deliverance,’” he said. “Arthur has also composed many well-known gospel songs including ‘Acres of Diamonds,’ ‘The Fourth Man,’ ‘I Saw A Man,’ ‘Not My Will,’ and ‘Shadow Of A Cross.’”
Gospel quartets including the Florida Boys, Cathedrals, Rebels and Blue Ridge Quartet recorded his writings, Waller said.
“Additional songs by Smith were recorded by Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell and Willie Nelson,” he said.
In a previous interview Smith described how he approached his television show: “I visualized a TV set in the den or living room with a seven-year-old kid lying on the floor and Dad reading the newspaper and I thought these were my audience,” he said. ” I never saw millions of people or auditoriums full of people. I always saw the intimacy that could be created.”
The Perrys performed “If You Knew Him” in Smith’s honor.Clay Smith, Arthur’s son, accepted the induction from Hall of Fame member Ed Hill. Arthur’s health prevented him from attending. Clay expressed his thanks to the Southern Gospel Music Association.
“(My father) often has moments of recall and clarity and the trail that leads to Southern gospel music is close to his heart,” Clay said. “He grew up in a small town about 45 miles south of Charlotte – Kershaw, if he were here today, he would tell you that is between litter barrel and resume speed. He made some noise in Kershaw and eventually via Florence and Spartanburg; he wound up in Charlotte, where he has been since 1943.
“On a personal note, while notably, he has had some hit records on popular side; has influenced some guitar players and banjo players, I think the most beautiful thing about my dad’s career is that he has been an instrument of God through his compositions like ‘The Fourth Man,’ and ‘I Saw a Man,’” he said.
Clay said Arthur married his mother Dorothy, who was Arthur’s high school sweet heart.
“He told me the only way he was going to be able to take her out was she made him commit to go to church,” he said. “I thank my mom for leading him down the right path and they just celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary. He would thank you for all the memories. This year marks 70 years that he has been in broadcasting. That is quite a milestone. To borrow his phrase: ‘until we see you again, goodbye, good luck, good health and God bless you everyone.’”
The other 2010 SGMA class of inductees are Danny Gaither, Little Jan Buckner-Goff, and Sam Goodman, Bill Hefner, and Connie Hopper.
Country Music Hall of Famer Dolly Parton received the James D. Vaughn Impact Award at the event.
The Southern Gospel Music Association is a non-profit organization that maintains the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, the only facility honoring this genre of music, for the historic preservation of the accomplishments of the music and its people. Museum hours match those of Dollywood. Donations are tax-deductible. Individuals and businesses may donate to assist with honoring inductees with special bronze plaques that are displayed in the Hall of Fame. For more information about the museum or its inductees, visit