Legendary singer Carman dies at 65; winning 'millions to Christ' was greatest achievement

Carman Licciardello, GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame Member and iconic CCM trailblazer, dies at 65.
Carman Licciardello, GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame Member and iconic CCM trailblazer, dies at 65. | Conduit Media

GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame member and Christian trailblazer Carman Dominic Licciardello, better known as Carman, died at a Las Vegas, Nevada, hospital on Tuesday. 

A statement released on Feb. 16 revealed that the entertainer died “after fighting a series of complications resulting from surgery to repair a hiatal hernia.” He was 65.

After being in remission from cancer over the past six years, Licciardello’s recent surgery led to internal bleeding.

Last month, one of his representatives asked his half a million social media followers to urgently pray for the entertainer. 

“We need you to stop right now and pray! Carman had a minor surgery last week. Recovery was not going well and his temperature continued to rise. They discovered it was caused by internal bleeding and had to do another surgery last night to fix that,” read a message that was posted on Licciardello’s Facebook page on Jan. 25.

“His kidneys and liver are not working fully. He needs a touch from the Lord right now!! Please pray for a complete healing for Carman.”

Born on Jan. 19, 1956, in Trenton, New Jersey, the evangelist started his musical career at the age of 15, playing in a band with his mother. Licciardello currently holds the world record of being the only Christian “stadium act” to lead tens of thousands of people in worship. The record for the largest concert was set at Texas Stadium with more than 71,000 fans and again he gathered 80,000 fans in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Licciardello has said several times throughout his career that he counted “winning millions of souls to Christ” as his greatest lifetime achievement.

"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,” Matt Felts, Licciardello's manager, said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.

His 1985 first No.1 song, "The Champion," made him a household name in Christian music.  

He has won numerous awards, including the House of Hope of Humanitarian Award for his positive influence in the lives of youth in America. That particular award was also given to such figures as Ronald and Nancy Reagan along with Billy Graham. Billboard named him “Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year” in 1992,1993 and 1995. Licciardello was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2018. 

The popular evangelist had spent the past several years sharing his testimony after he survived an intense battle with cancer.

On his birthday this year, he revealed he had to go to the hospital and shared his concerns because both his father and grandparents died at his age. 

GMA Dove Awards paid tribute to Licciardello on Facebook.

“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 ... 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 ... Our hearts go out to his family,” the dedication read.

Sunday’s on the Way," “The Champion,” “Lazarus Come Forth,” “Revival in the Land,” “Witches Invitation,” “This Blood” and “The Courtroom” were among Licciardello’s most popular compositions.

Licciardello was planning to embark on a 60-city tour later this month before the news of his untimely passing. He is survived by his wife, Dana. After a long life of singlehood, he was married in December 2017 in Dallas.

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