Trailblazing Christian music artist Carman Licciardello, known to fans simply as Carman, has died.
An update on his Facebook page Tuesday evening says he passed away at a Las Vegas, Nevada hospital after fighting a series of complications resulting from surgery to repair a hiatal hernia.
Carman, a GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame member, had turned 65 while in the hospital on Jan. 19.
As CBN News reported three weeks ago, he underwent hernia surgery which had resulted in a sudden, life-threatening crisis, including internal bleeding, organ failure and then pneumonia.
Carman had been diagnosed with incurable multiple myeloma cancer in 2013. He experienced several years of recovery. Then he reported last year that cancer had returned but he wouldn’t stop fighting and he planned to continue touring.
Last week, Carman’s team reported on his Facebook page, “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.”
In announcing Carman’s death on Feb. 16, his manager Matt Felts said, “This world has lost a light in the darkness but today Carman saw first hand the fruit of his labors.”
Carman wasn’t just an iconic Christian musician, he was also an inspired evangelist who led countless tens of thousands of souls to Christ throughout his decades-long ministry.
Two-time GRAMMY winner and Christian music artist Jason Crabb said, “There will never be another Carman. His was the very first CCM concert I ever attended. I’ll never forget going to Roberts Municipal Stadium in Evansville, IN with my youth group – I think every youth group went to see him. He was a trendsetter and a trailblazer, who had a vision to impact his audience with groundbreaking music and storytelling through powerful, cinematic videos all with one purpose: to point people to Jesus. I know there are millions today who accepted Christ at one of his concerts. As kids, I remember me and my friends acting out his song, “The Champion.” He made it cool to be a Christian. Never in a million years would I think that 25 years later I would get to know this man and call him a friend. Carman, we will miss you, but I know we will see you again.”
Rascal Flatts member Jay DeMarcus, owner of the Christian music label Red Street Records, also reflected on Carman’s impact:
“Carman and I were label mates at Benson Records in the early ’90s when I was in East to West, and we toured together. Neal and I were on his show on TBN, ‘Times Two.’ He will forever leave his mark on Christian music with songs like, ‘The Champion’, ‘Radically Saved,’ and ‘Revival in the Land’ among others, that will remain timeless. Carman’s stage shows were without equal, he was inspiring to watch. He was the consummate pro, and I was proud to call him my friend. It would be hard to fathom how many millions were led to Christ through his music and ministry. He will be missed but never forgotten.”
Carman received dozens of major honors and awards over the decades before being inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2018.
He reportedly 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.
Here’s Carman performing one of his most iconic songs, “The Champion”: