Carman, the Christian musician and showman who was known by a single name and who hosted the largest Christian concert in history, has died in Las Vegas at the age of 65, according to a statement on his official Facebook page.
What was the cause of death? Carman Licciardello died from complications of hernia surgery. Carman also had cancer. His Facebook page had posted updates of his health, writing on February 11,
“Many have asked for an update concerning Carman. He is still recovering and needs your prayers. 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. We ask you continue to lift him up in prayer so that he can get back on the road ministering soon.” His death was announced on February 17, 2021.
“LGMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame member, CARMAN, passed away Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at a Las Vegas, Nevada hospital, after fighting a series of complications resulting from surgery to repair a hiatal hernia,” the official statement read.
“The music is the best means I have of reaching the most people in the quickest way to win them to Christ,” Carman once said, according to Christianity Today. “I think an artist owes it to his audience to thrill them and impress them. It lets people know there is joy in being Christian.”
According to Christianity Today, Carman – real name Carmelo Domenic Licciardello – “won seven Dove Awards. He was nominated for four Grammys, named Billboard’s Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year in 1990 and 1992, and sold more than 10 million albums.”
Matt Felts, Carman’s manager, said in the statement: “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. This world has lost a light in the darkness but today Carman saw first hand the fruit of his labors.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Carman, Who Was Born in New Jersey, Was Planning a Tour
The statement reveals that Carman’s death was unexpected enough that he had been planning “to embark on a 60-city tour later this month.”
Carman Dominic Licciardello was born January 19, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey, according to the statement.
“Carman began his musical career playing drums in his mother’s band at the age of 15. Carman holds the world record for having the largest audience to see a single Christian artist. He set the record for the largest concert at Texas Stadium with more than 71,000 fans and led more than 80,000 fans in worship in Chattanooga, Tennessee,” the statement explains.
In 1985, he released his first song, The Champion.
According to the statement, this release “solidified his place in music history and defined his soul-winning career as one of endurance, grit, dedication, and pure talent. Anyone who knew Carman knows that he counted only this as his greatest lifetime achievement – winning millions of souls to Christ.”
Carman Was Known for His Humanitarian Work & Was Nominated for Many Music Awards
The official statement praised Carman’s humanitarian work.
“Among his many awards, Carman received the House of Hope of Humanitarian Award for his positive influence in the lives of American youth in 2006, other noted recipients of this award include Ronald & Nancy Reagan and Billy Graham,” it says.
“The Gospel Music Association honored Carman with induction into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2018. Billboard named Carman ‘Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year’ in 1992 and 1995, and in 1993, his album, Addicted to Jesus, earned the distinction of Contemporary Christian Album of the Year.”
According to the statement, Carman “was Grammy-nominated multiple times as the Best Pop Contemporary Gospel Artist. His recording, ‘A Long Time Ago in a Land Called Bethlehem’ was nominated for ‘Album of the Year’ by the Recording Academy in 1986.”
Carman Licciardello Was Remembered as ‘Part Evangelist, Part Vegas Showman’
The GMA Dove Awards offered tribute to Carman as news of his death spread.
“Today we honor GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame Inductee, Carman Licciardello who passed away yesterday at the age of 65.
Carman was often described as part evangelist, part Vegas Showman. He filled the largest stadiums the world over and remains the only Christian ‘stadium act,’ holding the record for the largest Christian concert ever in Dallas, Texas,” the awards’ Facebook page wrote.
The statement continues,
If there was any original trademark to Carman’s repertoire, it was his signature story songs. A combination of drama, rock, comedy, funk, satire, acting, singing, and preaching, all woven together. With compositions like “Sunday’s on the Way”, “The Champion”, “Lazarus Come Forth”, “Revival in the Land”, “Witches Invitation”, “This Blood” and even “The Courtroom”, simply put, Carman was a true American original. Our hearts go out to his family. ❤️