Ralph Carmichael (born 28 May 1927, Quincy, Illinois) is a composer and arranger of both secular pop music and contemporary Christian music, being regarded as one of the pioneers of the latter genre as well as the father of Christian rock. He was married to Marvella and is the father of composer and artist Carol Parks.   Carmichael is the son of a Pentecostal minister, who allowed his son to play the violin and listen to the radio. “I was captivated by the chordal explosions I heard on the radio. I felt a sadness that we didn't have that in our church. Our church orchestra sounded weak and terrible by comparison. It was embarrassing. Why? Why did we have to settle? Why couldn’t we use those gorgeous rhythms, sweeping strings, the brass, the stirring chords? That started to control everything I did.”   As a teenager he played violin with the San Jose Civic Symphony. At 17 he enrolled at Southern California Bible College, now Vanguard University, to become a preacher like his father, grandfather, three uncles and five cousins. He started a campus men’s quartet, ensembles and mixed groups of all kinds, blending jazz and classical music techniques with gospel songs and hymns. His musical “experiments” proved instantly controversial. His bands were unwelcome at many churches, and he was not allowed to store the baritone saxophone on campus because of its worldly associations with big band music.   After college, reaction to his band was mixed from the Christian community. One church made them hide the drums behind a curtain; a pastor in Oakland stopped the band mid-song because the music sounded too worldly. But after a performance at a men's fellowship in Pasadena, Carmichael's band was invited to audition for television. This program drew so much hate mail from Christians that the station asked for more shows.   In 1951, He was invited to score a film for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; in all he wrote the musical score for twenty of their films. For BGEA, he made the funky urban soundtrack for the 1970 film The Cross and the Switchblade.   By the late 1950s, secular producers had taken notice of Carmichael's radio and film work. He was invited to assist the composer at the television sitcom I Love Lucy and was soon arranging music for that show as well as Bonanza and The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show and for singer Rosemary Clooney. He scored the movie The Blob and arranged and composed music for a Bing Crosby Christmas special television program, which prompted his denomination to strongly suggest he not apply for renewal of his ordination.
  Ralph Carmichael (born 28 May 1927, Quincy, Illinois) is a composer and arranger of both secular pop music and contemporary Christian music, being regarded as one of the pioneers of the latter genre as well as the father of Christian rock. He was married to Marvella and is the father of composer and artist Carol Parks.   Carmichael is the son of a Pentecostal minister, who allowed his son to play the violin and listen to the radio. “I was captivated by the chordal explosions I heard on the radio. I felt a sadness that we didn't have that in our church. Our church orchestra sounded weak and terrible by comparison. It was embarrassing. Why? Why did we have to settle? Why couldn’t we use those gorgeous rhythms, sweeping strings, the brass, the stirring chords? That started to control everything I did.”   As a teenager he played violin with the San Jose Civic Symphony. At 17 he enrolled at Southern California Bible College, now Vanguard University, to become a preacher like his father, grandfather, three uncles and five cousins. He started a campus men’s quartet, ensembles and mixed groups of all kinds, blending jazz and classical music techniques with gospel songs and hymns. His musical “experiments” proved instantly controversial. His bands were unwelcome at many churches, and he was not allowed to store the baritone saxophone on campus because of its worldly associations with big band music.   After college, reaction to his band was mixed from the Christian community. One church made them hide the drums behind a curtain; a pastor in Oakland stopped the band mid-song because the music sounded too worldly. But after a performance at a men's fellowship in Pasadena, Carmichael's band was invited to audition for television. This program drew so much hate mail from Christians that the station asked for more shows.   In 1951, He was invited to score a film for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; in all he wrote the musical score for twenty of their films. For BGEA, he made the funky urban soundtrack for the 1970 film The Cross and the Switchblade.   By the late 1950s, secular producers had taken notice of Carmichael's radio and film work. He was invited to assist the composer at the television sitcom I Love Lucy and was soon arranging music for that show as well as Bonanza and The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show and for singer Rosemary Clooney. He scored the movie The Blob and arranged and composed music for a Bing Crosby Christmas special television program, which prompted his denomination to strongly suggest he not apply for renewal of his ordination.
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Ralph Carmichael
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