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Christian artist Carman able to revive his career after cancer diagnosis
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Christian artist Carman able to revive his career after cancer diagnosis

Christian artist with cancer able to revive career

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It took a terminal cancer diagnosis to get Christian recording artist Carman Licciardello out of a 13-year slump.

Carman, as he is known to his fans, was once one of the biggest draws in Christian music.

He lived in Tulsa from 1981 until 1997, and his ministry is still based here.

He was Billboard magazine's Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year in 1980.

He has 16 platinum and gold albums and videos, has sold more than 10 million albums and holds the attendance record for the largest solo Christian concert in history - 80,000 people in Charlotte, N.C.

Then his fortunes turned.

"It's been a rough 13 years for me. A lot has happened," Carman said in a phone interview last week.

"My brother passed away, I've had a falling out with my family and financial reversals with the market crash.

"But the biggest thing that affected me was that the record companies were moving on to other artists.

"I couldn't get re-signed. It's just the nature of the Christian record industry. They don't value established artists.

"I was not a hit-driven artist. I didn't need a hit song to sell records. I was an audience-driven artist.

"My sales hadn't dipped. It didn't make any sense," he said.

Without a record contract, sales and concerts declined, the 57-year-old artist said.

He found himself going to a lot of churches, often speaking and singing, sometimes to people who didn't know about his earlier musical career.

On Valentine's Day, he learned that he has incurable myeloma cancer and three to five years to live.

"When I got the diagnosis, it was almost like it made sense," he said. "I thought, I guess my time really is up. ... I just need to accept my fate and go along with it.

"I felt like I really didn't have anything left to say, and whatever I thought I had to say, nobody wanted to hear."

At first he told no one, but when untrue rumors began to circulate that he was about to die, he put something on Facebook so his friends would know he had years to live. In two weeks, 18,000 people responded to the Facebook posting.

"I thought maybe the Lord was giving me a nice, fond farewell," he said.

Then he got a call from an attorney he had known 20 years earlier in the music business, who told him he should make an album.

Carman told him he could not get a record company contract.

The man said he should use Kickstarter to raise the money for the album and produce it himself. Kickstarter is a fund-raising platform in which artists make proposals, and people can pledge varying levels of support. If all the money is raised, the project goes forward. If not, the money is returned.

With the attorney's help, Carman put a proposal on Kickstarter for $200,000, the amount he needed to produce an album.

"Within three weeks we had our budget. I was amazed. I was completely freaked out," he said.

"I'm starting to write songs right now. The moment the Kickstarter thing began, it's like I was back in the creative flow of 25 years ago."

As of last week, $280,000 had been raised. The additional money will go into a full production tour he hopes to launch next spring.

Tulsa will be one stop on that tour, he said.

"I'm thinking the Old Lady on Brady (theater). That's where I started in Tulsa," he said.

In the meantime, he said, his fight against cancer is a daily struggle. He was in the emergency room in Las Vegas, where he lives, on Wednesday suffering from nausea and dehydration. He is pursuing naturalistic treatment - diet and exercise - to build up his strength.

Carman credits the love and support of his fans for the revival of his career.

"Folks, you are the ones who have literally willed this man and this ministry back to life! Your prayers and belief in me are pushing this campaign into the #3 all time slot for most money ever raised on Kickstarter. And it's a project for Jesus!!" he wrote to his fans on Facebook.


Bill Sherman 918-581-8398

bill.sherman@tulsaworld.com SUBHEAD: Christian artist with cancer able to revive career

Original Print Headline: Hope follows diagnosis

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