Carman Licciardello is an enigma in Christian music, often described as part
evangelist, part lounge act. His concerts are more like rock 'n' roll Billy Graham
crusades than Christian music events. After all the singing, dancing, clapping, and
preaching, throngs of people stream down to the counseling area to accept Christ or
reaffirm their commitment to him. Admission is usually free -- love offerings are
taken -- and he fills large arenas the world over. In fact, Carman holds the record for the
largest Christian concert ever -- over 71,000 people at Dallas's Texas Stadium on October 22, 1994.
Carman has seven gold albums, two platinum videos, and four gold videos.
"The Champion" stayed on the Billboard Christian chart for 168 weeks.
He's come a long way since he sang "Are You Lonesome Tonight" at a New Jersey VFW
in 1971. He passed through the nightclub scene in New Jersey and later moved to Las
Vegas to showcase his singing talent. It was in Las Vegas that Carman became a Christian.
"I wasn't a drug addict. I wasn't divorced five times or anything like that," he says.
"My sister and her husband were Christians, and living in that Christian home brought
me such peace. I could see what God had done in their lives, and I wanted some of
it. From that point, I developed a strong relationship with God, and about five years
later, I started singing Christian music."
How do stores classify and display a Carman album? Is it pop? Comedy? Drama? Rap?
Rock? The answer is yes. There is no way that one can identify a Carman song by its
"style." Not to fall into any particular genre has almost become his style.
His music is largely derivative -- skipping from country twang to hip-hop grooves
to Sly and the Family Stone and movie soundtrack drama. He writes his own material
in order to keep current with popular music trends. If there is any original trademark
to Carman's repertoire, it is what he calls his "story songs" -- "Sunday's on the
Way, "The Champion," "Radically Saved," and others. His first thought in writing music
is always the message -- God's salvation, straight-ahead evangelism -- and what's
going to work with his audience so that they hear that message.
Carman's latest release, Mission 3:16
, leaves no doubt as to his mission and
message, "dropping behind enemy lines" and "taking God's message of salvation to the
streets." (The musical score throughout is reminiscent of the 1960s "Mission: Impossible"
television series.) He positions, "What I feel I've been led to do with this album
is to give people a healthy dose of strength through God . . . If this album inspires
them to go out to the highways and byways and actually be a part of saving someone
destined for destruction, then I've fulfilled my goal . . . To me, using my talent
to help build the Kingdom of God is the only thing worth waking up for."Selected Products by Carman
All Products by Carman at Christianbook.com
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