In November of 1924, while attending the Stamps School of Music in Jacksonville, Texas, Otis Denton and M. L. Yandell were each paid five bucks cash by Dean of the School Virgil Oliver Stamps to write the topic of today's blog, Give the World a Smile. In 1925, Frank Stamps and the Wheeler Brothers recorded it on the Victor label and two years later the Stamps Quartet took a swing at it and sales of the disc soared heavenward. Sporting what sounds like Bluto the Sailor on lead vocals, the Stamps distinguish what might have been a routine release with a scatted-out, pre-doo-wop hillbilly breakdown after the last chorus, thus ensuring the record's place in the Crazy White Gospel Hall of Fame. The Stamps grabbed World as their theme song and it's served them well throughout the years.
Former Blackwood Brothers bass singer J. D. Sumner, famous for his solo recording of Blessed Assurance where he hit the lowest note ever recorded by a human voice (a "double-low" C according to the Guinness people), purchased the Stamps Quartet franchise and brought them in as Elvis Presley's backup group in the 1970s. The Stamps have enjoyed a hallowed career and are still knocking around Menudo-like in one form or another today.
Less is known about The Corley Family. In the winter of 1929 a Columbia field recording unit came through Dallas on a search for new talent and The Corley kin got caught up in the heady whirlwind of Amateur Hour promises. Lacing up their Sunday best, The Corleys leaned into their cover of Give the World a Smile with a fury fueled by the fiery desire to ascend to the next plane or at least out of the impending Dust Bowl. Striking a hauntingly optimistic tone, the Corleys switch it into high gear when someone holds a kid up to the ribbon microphone for the second half of every chorus. That's the part that kills me every time and makes holy mincemeat out of the Stamps' version of the song.