The Smith Brothers were active in both gospel and country music for over 25 years, and also appeared in a few Westerns during the '40s. John Onvia Smith and Aubrey Lee Smith were both born in the mountains of East Tennessee. They formed their first string band when they were children, and aspired to become country music performers. In 1938, they got a job at a Cincinnati radio station, where they met Milton "Ace" Richman. The three men teamed up and moved to Columbus, where they worked with Hank Newman's Georgia Crackers. In 1940, they went to Charleston, South Carolina and sang Western music as the Red River Rangers. They finally settled in Atlanta and were joined by Eddie Wallace. They billed themselves as the Sunshine Boys Quartet and sang a wide variety of songs ranging from gospel to Western swing to barbershop at assorted Atlanta radio stations. During the mid-'40s, they went to Hollywood periodically to appear in movies featuring cowboy stars like Lash La Rue, Charles Starrett, and Eddie Dean. They also recorded a single as the Sunshine Boys.
The Smith Brothers worked primarily as a duo after 1948 and appeared on a daily 75-minute program in Atlanta for nine years; they also had a 15-minute gospel show called Camp Meeting. As a duo, they made their recording debut in 1951 with the tearjerker "Happy Birthday in Heaven." Two years later, they signed to Capitol as a gospel duo. Among their best-known songs were "I Have But One Goal," "Working in God's Factory," and "God's Rocket Ship." The Smiths later moved to Pittsburgh, appearing on WWVA's Wheeling Jamboree on Saturday nights. They continued on at other stations and made one album for the Sing label before retiring from music in 1965. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi