Born Carman Licciardello on January 19, 1956, in Trenton, NJ. Addresses: Business--Carman Ministries, P.O. Box 5093, Brentwood, TN 37024, website: http://www.carman.org. Record company--Sparrow Label Group, P.O. Box 5010, Brentwood, TN 37024-5010, website: http://www.sparrowrecords.com. Management--Rendy Lovelady Management, 1102 17th Avenue South, Suite 402, Nashville, TN 37211.

After almost 20 years as one of the top stars of Contemporary Christian music, Carman fulfilled a long-held ambition when he branched out into moviemaking with his 2001 film The Champion. Portraying a boxer trying to stay true to his Christian principles in the rough-and-tumble boxing world of inner-city Los Angeles, Carman's role was an unusual one for a film debut by a Christian entertainer. Although the film shocked some of his fans with its brutal depictions of boxing and gambling, the star insisted that the movie had a higher motive than pure sensationalism. As Carman told the Focus on the Family website, "Instead of taking a normal man and putting him in an abnormal circumstance, I decided to twist it and take a godly man and put him in an ungodly environment. The point was to watch him struggle to maintain who he is through the entirety of the movie."

Born on January 19, 1956, in Trenton, New Jersey, Carman Licciardello grew up in an Italian-American family where music was a part of everyday life. Carman grew up playing the drums and guitar and studying drama. By the time he was a teenager, Carman was a good enough musician to start playing with professional bands. Eventually, his work took him to Las Vegas, where he played with groups that featured everything from country to top 40 to big-band swing music.

While in his twenties, Carman experienced a religious awakening while attending a concert by gospel superstar Andrae Crouch. As he later said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, "I could feel the Spirit of God through what [Crouch] was doing. I really felt an anointing. He took what was sacred in the church and put it into music I could relate to." Carman was so moved by the feeling that he started to study for his own ministry, a process that took five years before he began his own Christian outreach program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Later, he would base Carman Ministries in Brentwood, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.

Huge Success in Christian Music

Carman continued to incorporate his love of music into his newfound religious direction, although it took the better part of the 1980s before he became a well-known Christian recording artist. Although he released an album in 1982, Some-O-Dat, his breakthrough came with 1988's Carman Live ... Radically Saved. The release highlighted Carman's showmanship, developed over decades of concert performances. It also built upon the bachelor's image as something of a Christian-music heartthrob. An energetic and charismatic performer, Carman's dark good looks became the focus of subsequent ad campaigns in support of his work. One of the first true video stars of Christian music, Carman's work also earned him the first of several Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in 1989 for the Best Long-Form Video of the Year; he would also win the award in 1991 and 1993.

As a concert performer, Carman played dates free of charge. Although his representatives collected "love offerings" from the audience to cover the costs of the show, the rest of the proceeds went to fund the nonprofit Carman Ministries. Perhaps in part because his concerts were free, he set a number of attendance records while on tour. In 1993 while on his "Music for Peace" tour in Johannesburg, South Africa, Carman set an attendance record for Christian concerts with over 50,000 at the show. The following year Carman packed over 71,000 fans into the Texas Stadium in Dallas, breaking his own record. A reviewer for the About.com Christian Music website explained Carman's appeal to such large numbers of fans: "He doesn't make music for the sake of music, or artistry. He makes music as an evangelism tool. Indeed, Carman is more like a singing evangelist than a singer. Attending one of his concerts is like going to a revival with a musical soundtrack." Carman acknowledged in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that his concerts were the most fulfilling part of his career: "Ultimately, performing live is probably my favorite. That's where you know that what you do is really working."

Controversy over R.I.O.T. Release

By the time he released the marketing campaign for his R.I.O.T. (Righteous Invasion of Truth) album in 1995, Carman had become one of the best-known entertainers in Contemporary Christian music. Originally scheduled for a November of 1995 release, his record company rushed it into stores early to take advantage of a promotional tie-in for its first single, "No Monsters," with Halloween. A song that depicted the stark choices that could lead to heaven or hell, the track's video was a bit too strong for some Christian stations, however, who declined to air it. The release was also accompanied by a R.I.O.T. Manual book directed at Christian teens, promotional "No Monsters" T-shirts, and other merchandise for Carman fans. The entertainer also promoted his work through his slot on the Trinity Broadcasting Network with his show Times 2.

Carman was most excited, however, about the videos that he made to promote R.I.O.T. Released in two separate series, the R.I.O.T. videos starred Carman as a police officer fighting to keep his family safe from the violence and immorality of the modern world. "I've always wanted to do Christian movies," he told Billboard in 1996. "That's been my desire from the beginning, and it shows up in a lot of the story/song [videos] we've done. It will be just as if you're watching a movie on TV, but instead of cutting to a commercial, we cut to music video."

Despite his innovative video work, however, Carman insisted that he maintained one focus through his work: spreading the Word of God. As he had told Billboardin 1995, "For me, it's not always saying a new thing. I look at someone like Billy Graham, and I see the thing that has made him great is that he has been consistent down through the years. When he gets up behind the microphone, you're not waiting for him to say something new. You're waiting on him to say what he has been brought there to say, on a larger scale but with the same conviction, enthusiasm, and consistency down through the years."

Released The Champion

Carman had long spoken of his desire to take on acting roles; as he told the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1998, "I really feel the Lord calling me to get much more into TV and movies, that's what is on the horizon." His ventures into acting through his video work, which won a series of Dove Awards throughout the 1990s, was but one step in that direction. Eventually, however, Carman came up with his own screenplay for a movie in which he would take on the starring role.

In The Champion, Carman starred as Orlando Leone, a boxer who had retired from his professional career in favor of working in a youth ministry in inner-city Los Angeles. In addition to fighting against the drug dealers in his neighborhood, Leone also battled the corrupt boxing promoters who threatened his family to force him to reenter the ring for one final bout against the current champion, fast-living Keshon Banks. Although the numerous violent scenes in the movie and its sometimes obscene language made The Champion objectionable to some Christian audiences, it nonetheless was a rare feature film that held Christian themes as its focus.

For his part, Carman was thrilled that his long-standing acting ambitions were finally realized. "It is very exciting and challenging, because it is a whole new field with new artistic endeavors," he commented in an interview with the Christian Crosswalk.com website. "It's like starting all over again, literally. A few areas of performance apply, but primarily it is a whole different art form. It is exciting to be able to take something to the silver screen that has a Christian message to it."

by Timothy Borden

Carman's Career

Studied music and drama; opened his own outreach ministry; released a series of Contemporary Christian albums and videos; set attendance records for concerts in South Africa and the United States, 1990s; starred in Christian-themed movie, The Champion, 2001.

Carman's Awards

Gospel Music Association Dove Award, Long Form Video of the Year, 1989; Billboard magazine Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year, 1990; Dove Award, Long Form Video of the Year, Short Form Video of the Year, 1991; Billboard magazine Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year, 1992; Dove Award, Long Form Video of the Year, Children's Music Album of the Year, 1993; Dove Award, Children's Music Album of the Year, 1995; Dove Award, Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year, 1997.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

PeriodicalsOnline

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 2 years ago

I just want to say that Carman, keep up the good work, I have been listening to you and watching your videos for years and I appreciate your ministry and what God has done in your life, What A mighty Man Of God you are!!! GOd Bless you real Good. :)

about 3 years ago

I just want to say how I appreciate you and your music over the years.

about 3 years ago

A dear sister in Ft. Lauderdale went to see you in a local church just this past Sunday nite, June 26th. She said you were outstanding...So, last nite while in fellowship, we started remembering what a blessing you have been for quite some time and how thankful we are for your Walk. Thank you, my Brother, for being JESUS to so many and remember us in prayer as we stand on the WORD in SPIRIT/TRUTH with you...all PRAISE TO YESHUA MESSIAH

about 3 years ago

What a blessing you have been down through the years. You have been on my heart since Saturday at Word of Life in El Paso. My heart has been broken for you. I am praying for you daily. God bless you Buddy! Galatians 10:5

over 3 years ago

Blessings...Carman,I like your songs specially "We need God in America Again"...We really do. God bless you and Happy Birthday! When are you comming to Texas?

over 3 years ago

Hey i just wanted to say that my brother and i grew up on you. We loved all of your songs. Are parents even made a mix video tape for us to watch.It's the only one we have so we always keep it safe and like brand new! But i just wanted to say thanks you touched my family's heart!

almost 4 years ago

'Carman my family met you at Perris fairgrounds a few years ago, a family of 16 kids at the time,now there are 44 grndchldrn and they have taken your video of "Satan bite the dust" and made a skit out of it for Halloween 10-31-10. I know you can't be here but I just wanted you to know your songs go on. Oh by the way my kids did the same video when they were small, so now it's their kids. I really hope you get this. We miss you coming out and singing but we all still listen to your music. In Christ, Jessie Holmes*

about 4 years ago

Hi Carman, Iam blessed by your TV show Time 2.Pls give me your email address.

over 4 years ago

Yesterday I went to a performance that you did in Front Royal, VA. I was SO excited to see you, and we came all the way from Bowie, Maryland. I am 12, and you should come to my church, Cornerstone Assembly of God. We have a LOT of your videos! My brother(8), my sister(15), and I are probably you biggest youngest fans!!

over 4 years ago

Hi, Carman! I teach Bible studies at a private Christian school in SC. Whenever possible, I play your music along with our studies. For example, I played "Lazarus Come Forth" the other day when I taught about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The students LOVE your music - as well as the 75 year old cafeteria worker. God bless you in all you do! Hoping you will make more music!

over 4 years ago

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!

over 4 years ago

carman just want to encourage you today.your music still reaches to the heart and its a blessing to have my youngest daughter still listen to your music.see she is in state prison is 25 and 2 of her friends were killed in her car accident.when the girls were little i always listened to you i even saw you 6 times in concert.i loved your music and it blesses me she loves your music also.she says it speaks to her.just wanted to tell you this and by the way happy birthday.mine is the 27. byeand god bless you.

over 4 years ago

Carman: Happy Birthday!!!!! I know this is early but I wish you a very happy birthday this new year(2010) and I thank God that every desire of your heart will be granted to you for we can all see that you delight yourself in Him. I can sense that the best is yet to come for you. May God bless you a lot because you are deserving!

over 4 years ago

Shalom in Jesus Carman. I just wanted to encourage you in the Lord, thanking God for the way He uses your ministry, and the wonderful anointing God has placed on your ministry, your anointed music remains continues to spread the word most powerfully. I'm still praying God brings you to England, UK once again!! God Bless you Carman.

over 4 years ago

Shalom in Jesus Carman. I just wanted to encourage you in the Lord, thanking God for the way He uses your ministry, and the wonderful anointing God has placed on your ministry, your anointed music remains continues to spread the word most powerfully. I'm still praying God brings you to England, UK once again!! God Bless you Carman.

almost 5 years ago

Hi Carman, just wondering after all these years you never got married? I never see a wedding ring on your finger, so I'm sure you're not married. I believe the Lord will give you a virtuous Proverbs 31 woman that will love you and cherish you all the days of her life!!! She has been picked by the Lord just for you. God bless you!

almost 5 years ago

Hello Carmen I really thank the Lord for the ministry that He gave you all of my three sons grew up with your music. I have a son name Mark Gallegos and the Lord has given him a Word for this Nation what would you recommend for him to do? He is already 27years old really loves the Lord and the Lord has given him a sword. I pray that the Lord would show you what he should do? Lisa

almost 5 years ago

Hi! I grew up watching you and your videos! They were so powerful and as a little girl...kind of scared me a little too! lol I fell away from Christ for a long time. Now, He has helped me find my way back to Him (after hitting rock-bottom). But Praise God I am back in the word. I remembered watching you and how powerful the messages are. Today I watched some of your old videos on Youtube..lol! I feel inspired all over again! So I guess I just want you to know that you are still helping to bring people closer to Christ with your videos and music! God Bless!!!

about 5 years ago

Hi Carmen, I attended your concert in the New Orleans Superdome, 1994, with some other Christian friends Words cannot explain how wonderful and breathtaking it was. Our hearts were on fire so full of love for Jesus, that I was floating on air for weeks afterward. I have mentioned your name to other friends many times since then. I think you are the best Christian entertainer who has ever lived. I love your music. I also have your movie, Champion, and a dvd of the concert you performed in Detroit. I would like to know if you are touring anymore. I would love to go to another concert. Bless You.

over 5 years ago

carman, hello. I'm writing to see if the earlier music is now on cds. and if I could still buy them. I'm a big fan of yours, I went to all of your concerts when you came to Ohio. and florida. I hope that I can get the cd's. thank you peggy

over 5 years ago

Hi Carmen, I am not sure if you remember me, I am an old friend and co-muscian friend of your moms. We worked togerther at the Frontier Room,. in Bordentown, NJ back in the early 1970's. I am trying to locate your mom and Babydoll, as well. Plese contact me as I'd love to hear from you and get in touch with your mom and/or Babydoll. By the way, your cousin Andi and I are currently working together in a band. Take care, God bless, Gina.

over 5 years ago

Carman...do you have and autobiography in print? I hope ypur answer is yes!!! God Bless You

over 5 years ago

Yeah, Carman, Good work all through the years. Are you married? If not why not. You know with your kind of work, there are lots of tempation out there. I am happily married.

over 5 years ago

Hey Carman.....we are the family that were with you 'recording The Standard' at a castle in Chepstow South Wales. If you look at the credits on the video you will see our name there as Andrew did a lot of the props etc....my daughter (who i distinctly remember you liking) was taking photos. We often talk about you and we are involved in Christian radio locally and on the web we play your music!!! www.hopefm.com.Please forward to Carman if possible.Thank You Very much. God Bless x

over 5 years ago

Dear Carmen, When I first got saved over 30 years ago, and I started listening to Christian music, your songs excited me the most in the Lord. All through the years I have loved your music. The christian radio station I listen to has either stopped playing your music or you haven't had a new song in a very long time. Why is that? I really miss your music.

almost 6 years ago

I just wanted to know if the Lord has given Carman a dream about his future wife. She has had a dream about him from the Lord !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

almost 6 years ago

I am writing from Antigua- in the Caribbean. I happened to turn on the Tv last night and this gentleman was on. The patient who I was attending to has the belief that God has forgotten her but upon hearing this gentlman praying and preaching she has now recieved new hope that God is still on the throne and he still has work for her to do. She is 74 and has COPD,cancer,HTN and all sorts of other complication. Tears came to my eyes and als to hers as we prayed and held hands . She really does not know God but I pray she will get the chance before she passes. Carman,if you happen to read this please send me an Email.

over 6 years ago

Hello Carman; I live in Philadelphia, Pa and I've enjoyed your work it has been a great blessing, keep up the good work and I'll keep you in prayer. Have you ever gave a concert in philly? When are you coming out with your next album? God Bless; Bonnie Oliver

over 6 years ago

Yo! What's new for 2008?