Ralph Carmichael 
Ralph Carmichael
Both Ralph Carmichael’s mother, who was a Bible teacher, and his father, who was a preacher, played the piano. His dad also liked to play the fiddle, but the church said it was the devil's instrument and he had to give it up. So it probably was not coincidence when Ralph's father gave him a violin and arranged pivate lessons for him while he was only three and a half years old. Later, trumpet and piano lessons were added.

After high school, he attended
Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA) in the late '40s.

His pranks in college almost got him expelled, and his lack of interest in subjects like homilethics, Greek and Hebrew cost him a diploma (they had no music major). After he finished, the college, realizing his musical talents, hired him to set up the school's first department of evangelistic music.

With the definition of popular music as the music of the people, he was enamored with the big bands and orchestras of the day and how they reached large audiences. He began to experiment with like styles as more effective vehicles to carry the Gospel message to younger generations.

His band of seminary students landed a spot on a local TV station in Los Angeles with a program called
The Campus Christian Hour. The college wanted their name kept off the credits—(back in those days) what would people think of a Gospel Big Band?—that is, until the program went on to win an Emmy Award in 1950.

“...the ‘Campus Christian Hour’ on Channel 2 [Los Angeles, 1949] ...[initially] drew so much hate mail from Christians that the station asked for more shows.”

During the '50s and '60s, he orchestrated many albums for
Sacred Records and Alma Records' Christian Faith label; and wrote such songs as The Savior Is Waiting, My Friend and I, Oh I Never Shall Forget the Day, Love Is Surrender.

He wrote, arranged and conducted the music scores for the dramatic films produced by
Dick Ross and written by James Collier for World Wide Pictures, the film ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; including film theme songs such as I Found What I Wanted, Return, The Heart Is A Rebel, He's Everything to Me.

He did the music for overseas crusades conducted by
Dr. Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, including the 1961 Tokyo Christian Crusade with a large symphony orchestra and a huge choir with guest soloists.

“I’ll never forget the day I discovered that God could use my foolish music for His glory.”

In 1958, Carmichael recorded the orchestral album, Rhapsody in Sacred Music, for Sacred Records at the new Capitol Records studios on Vine Street in Hollywood. Val Valentino, the engineer who mixed the album, asked for a copy, and flattered, Carmichael gave him two.

A few weeks later aboard a plane to Havana, Cuba to record backing tracks for the
Nat King Cole album, Cole EspaƱol, Valentino mentioned the sessions to Lee Gillette, who was Cole's producer, and gave him a copy.

Soon, Carmichael got a call from Lee Gillette and in March of 1960, he was in a studio at Capitol with a 45-piece orchestra and a 25-voice choir to do
The Magic of Christmas album for Nat King Cole.

When Cole needed a full-time arranger and
Nelson Riddle became too much in demand to devote himself exclusively to Cole or Frank Sinatra, Capitol named Carmichael as Nat's regular arranger/conductor. He arranged and conducted 9 albums and part of a 10th one for Nat, and his last big pop hit single, The Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.

When Nat discovered Ralph Carmichael, he unearthed a rare treasure...Cole worked harder and sang sweeter than ever before, as if to make his new partner look good—that is, of making Cole look good.
Will Friedwald, Album Liner Notes, Nat Cole Boxed Set, Capitol Records

The calls started coming in. Kapp Records asked him to do albums for pianist Roger Williams, including his 1966 pop hit single, Born Free.

During this period in the 60's, he arranged and/or conducted orchestras and choruses for many other big names in pop music including
Peggy Lee, Jack Jones, Debbie Reynolds, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby ( Do You Hear What I Hear? ), Stan Kenton, The King Sisters, Sue Raney, and Tex Ritter.

In 1963,
Word Records acquired Sacred Records primarily to bring Carmichael into the Word family of artists.

The Word label was conservative, and Carmichael wanted to experiment with new music geared towards young people. So in 1966, he made a proposal to Word founder
Jarrell McCracken to partner with him in a joint venture to create a new label and music publishing company. McCracken liked the idea, and Light Records and Lexicon Music were born in 1968. Light/Lexicon produced the music, Word distributed it.

By 1970, Carmichael left secular music.

In that same year, he wrote and produced the music for the
Dick Ross film, The Cross and the Switchblade, which starred Pat Boone, and Erik Estrada in his first film role.

At Light/Lexicon, he continued to write new musicals and songs including
He's Everything to Me, I Looked for Love, A Quiet Place, The New 23rd, His Land, Keep Me Where Love Is, and Reach Out to Jesus which was recorded by Elvis Presley.

He signed new contemporary artists to Light including
Andraé Crouch & The Disciples, The Winans, Rez Band, Dino Kartsonakis, and Bryan Duncan.

He produced new albums, did a radio show, and became generally recognized as the father of what is now known as contemporary Christian music (CCM).

In 1985, Carmichael was inducted into the
GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and in 2001, the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

The year 1997 marked his 50th year in Christian music and he was presented with an Honorary Music Doctorate from
Vanguard University, which was known as Southern California Bible College (SCBC) when he was a student in the class of 1947.

The late '90s and millenium years saw Carmichael actively 'making music' with new big band Gospel, Christmas, swing and orchestral recordings; as well as traveling around the U.S. doing big band concerts in over 50 cities.

A living legend, the year 2012 marks Carmichael's 65th year in Christian music, and plans were announced for a new big 30-city tour beginning in March 2013.

An Evening with Ralph Carmichael
is to feature a local Symphony Orchestra in each city played, the Ralph Carmichael Big Band, a Mass Choir recruited from area churches, and guest artists from the Christian music industry. For more information, please visit:


MAIL: PO Box 936, Newbury Park, CA 91319
CDS, BIOGRAPHY BOOK: ralphcarmichael.com/products.php

pop music
Nat King ColeRoger Williams Julie London
Jack JonesPeggy Lee Sue Raney
Debbie ReynoldsTex Ritter Jane Powell
Ella FitzgeraldBing Crosby Stan Freberg
Stan KentonRosemary Clooney Pete Fountain
Count BasieDuke Ellington Lena Horne
Kay StarrBarbara McNair Al Martino
The King SistersEddie Fisher Ben Blue
and others.

Christian music
Vangie CarmichaelRedd Harper
Albie PearsonRoy Rogers & Dale Evans
Thurl RavenscroftAnne Criswell Jackson
Greg LorenBeth Farnum Bob Daniels,
John GustafsonCarol Carmichael Parks
Bill CarleSue Raney Jimmy Durante
Mary JayneThe Good Twins Dave Boyer
Charles TurnerFlo Price Georgia Lee
and others.

I Love Lucy
The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Variety Show,
      ABC-TV Fall Season 1962
Red Skelton
Ralph Carmichael
Joni 1979 The Late Liz 1971
The Cross And The Switchblade 1970
His Land 1970 For Pete’s Sake 1966
The Restless Ones 1965
Shadow Of The Boomerang 1960
4-D Man 1959 The Blob 1958
The Heart Is A Rebel 1958
The Persuader 1957 Wiretapper 1955
Oiltown USA 1954 Souls In Conflict 1953

Light Records /Lexicon Music, Inc. 1968

Ralph Carmichael

He’s Everything To Me • I Found What I Wanted
The Man • Oh, I Never Shall Forget The Day
Reach Out To Jesus • The Heart Is A Rebel
Like A Lamb (Who Needs A Shepherd) • Return
The Ballad Of St. Peter (Pray) • Love Is Surrender
The Savior Is Waiting • The New 23rd
...and many more.

Ralph Carmichael
Picture courtesy Crystal River Records

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Ralph Carmichael Biography updated Dec 13, 2012: YouTube Videos, Links Added.