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Pioneering Christian music artist Carman dies at 65

by Will Maule

One of the world's most successful contemporary Christian artists, Carmelo Domenic Licciardello, has died aged 65. Licciardello, who was known by his stage name 'Carman' adopted a unique blend of gospel-infused rap, pop and soul which saw him shoot to international stardom in the 1980s and 90s.

In 2013, Carman announced that he had cancer and was told he had just three or four years to live. In 2014, he announced that he'd been given the all-clear and thanked his fans for their healing prayers. Sadly, in January 2020, Carman announced that the disease had returned. Despite the diagnosis, he resumed church concerts in June 2020.

According to an announcement on his Facebook page, Carman died from complications stemming from an operation to repair a hiatal hernia. He died at a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday. 

A dedicated evangelist, Carman was known for his energetic live shows and held the record for the largest Christian concert in history - in 1994, more than 70,000 people attended his free concert in Dallas, Texas. He was awarded 15 gold and platinum albums and sold over 10 million records over the span of his 35-year career. He was known for his hit songs and videos, including 'Satan, bite the dust', 'Who's in the house', and 'Righteous Invasion of Truth (R.I.O.T)'.

He was planning on embarking on a 60-city tour later this month.  

His manager, Matt Felt, said: "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 labours." 

Many in the Christian music industry have paid tribute to Carman following the news of his passing. 

"We remember you Carman......we are grateful for the times we had with you," tweeted gospel artist Toby Mac. "You were so kind to me, Michael and Kevin. When we were young punks, you welcomed us. You are home now. A Champion for real." 

Carman is survived by his wife, Dana, and his wider family. 

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