The "Father of Contemporary Christian Music," Ralph Carmichael, went home to be with the Lord on Monday.
The singer-songwriter passed away on October 18, 2021, in Camarillo, California. He was 94 years old at the time. The reason for his death was not given on his official Facebook page, which broke the news.
Besides his wife Marvella, he is survived by his children Andrea, Greg and Erin, their grandkids and great-grandchildren, as well as a large extended family. His daughter Carol Carmichael Parks, died before him.
According to the Christian Headlines, when he was a student at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), Carmichael, who was a Pentecostal preacher's kid, formed a men's quartet that played both traditional hymns and jazz. This was the beginning of his long musical career. His early career included leadership roles in the school's music department, where he served as director.
Carmichael was honored with an Emmy in 1951 for his "Campus Christian Hour," a Los Angeles TV show featuring his school band performing hymns and gospel tunes. The Gospel Music Hall of Fame inducted Carmichael in 1985. The National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame inducted him in 2001 as well.
A preview of his legacy
A new genre of faith-based music known as "Contemporary Christian Music" was born in the 1960s thanks to Carmichael. "The Savior Is Waiting," "There is a Quiet Place," "Reach Out to Jesus" and "He's Everything to Me" are just a few of the gospel songs he wrote throughout his lifetime.
CCM musicians like Andraé Crouch, the Resurrection Band, and George Beverly Shea all owe their success to Carmichael, according to Relevant Magazine. Nat King Cole, the Carpenters, Ella Fitzgerald, and Elvis Presley were all influenced by him as well.
The Cross and the Switchblade," "4D Man," and "The Blob" all had Carmichael as their composer, as did series like "I Love Lucy" and "Bonanza."
When Carmichael was still writing music, he started Light Records and Lexicon Music Publishing in 1968 with the goal of encouraging Christian musicians on the rise. The late artist was also the head of the Gospel Music Association, a position he held until his death.
Christian Headlines noted that while Carmichael had a significant impact on Gospel and Christian music, but his career was not without its detractors. Trying to update Christian music led to Carmichael being labeled a "heretic" by some, according to a tribute posted on his official Facebook page. In those days, churches usually used hymns to lead worship.
"Ralph enjoyed his life to the fullest," the tribute says. "He was passionate about the music that flowed from his soul and created it as the consummate professional."
"He cared deeply for his family and friends, and he lived out his cowboy dreams with the many horses that he owned along the way. He laughed easily, loved deeply, enjoyed a good joke or a prank, and charmed anyone who came across his path. Undergirding it all was his abiding faith in his Lord Jesus Christ."