Christian music pioneer Carman Licciardello has died from complications due to surgery. The singer, who was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, had battled cancer twice in recent years.
His Facebook page had been updated Thursday evening, offering details such as he had died in a Las Vegas medical center resulting from surgery to repair a hiatal hernia. The surgery had resulted in organ failure, internal bleeding, and pneumonia. Hernias are common after surgery to remove cancerous tumors from the groin and abdomen.
The singer turned 65 while in the hospital on Jan. 19. Carman had faced cancer since 2013 when he was diagnosed with incurable multiple myeloma cancer. In 2019 he told fans that the cancer had returned and would seek additional treatment but that he would continue touring.
Last week those around Carman reported that “Due to his long fight with cancer and the effect that has on the body, his bounce back from this has been slower than he would like. He appreciates all of the care and prayers you have sent his way.”
The iconic singer was born in Trenton, New Jersey on January 19, 1956, and liked to let his Jersey accent play with the crowds. His musical career really began with his mother’s band, when at the age of 15 he began playing drums.
EVENT: Christian College Expo Feb. 27
Carman became one of the top Christian artists for two decades in the 80s and 90s, and even holds the world record for having the largest audience to see a single Christian singer. The set the record for the largest concert at Texas Stadium in 1994 with more than 71,000 fans and he has led more than 80,000 fans in worship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Carman was inducted into The Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2018. He has accomplished many achievements in music during his career including Billboard naming him “Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year” for three years – 1992, 1995, and 1993. Perhaps his most commercially successful album, Addicted to Jesus, was named Contemporary Christian Album of the Year. The Grammy’s were also no stranger to Carman who was nominated numerous times as the Best Pop Contemporary Gospel Artist.
But it was his 1985 song, “The Champion,” that earned him his place in music history. The song, which he would sing for the next three decades, became his anthem. Carman referred to the lyrics during his cancer battle, giving fans facing their own life-threatening challenges encouragement to run the race to the finish line.
Carman was unique in recent years as he continued to tour. His manager Matt Felts said that Carman had his doubts if fans would want him back. “When Carman resumed touring again a few years ago, he was concerned that no one would care that he was back. He was wrong. Every night fans packed out venues and his ministry was as powerful as it ever was.”
He had always prioritized giving invitations for fans to accept Christ at every venue – something that is missing from most contemporary music concerts. Those invitations and Carman’s preaching made him a respected evangelist who has led tens of thousands of people to Christ.
Carman wasn’t giving up on lost souls. He had planned to start a 60-city tour this month.
As memorials pour in from fans and artists around the world, it was his manager that summed up the loss.
“This world has lost a light in the darkness, but today Carman saw first hand the fruit of his labors,” Felts stated when announcing his death.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice