Ralph CarmichaelVer no iTunes
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Arranger/conductor Ralph Carmichael was born May 27, 1927 in Quincy, IL; the son of a pastor, he spent much of his childhood in North Dakota before the family settled in California during the late 1930s. Carmichael's first instrument was the violin, which he picked up at age four; he later added piano, trumpet and vocal studies to his musical education, and while attending Southern California Bible College organized a series of vocal groups and orchestras. In time he was invited to arrange big-band renditions of gospel standards for the Emmy-winning local television program The Campus Christian Hour, and while serving as minister of music at an L.A. area Baptist church, Carmichael composed the popular hymn "The Savior Is Waiting." In addition to writing film scores for Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures — a stint which generated the standard "He's Everything to Me" — Carmichael went on to work as an arranger for Capitol, working with everyone from Pat Boone to Bing Crosby to Ella Fitzgerald. During the 1960s he helped pioneer the rise of the CCM format by adding elements of contemporary pop and folk music to traditional gospel arrangments, and through his own Light Records label gave boosts to the careers of Andrae Crouch, the Winans, Bryan Duncan and others. Beginning in 1990, Carmichael served as musical director for The Young Messiah, the highest-grossing Christian musical tour ever mounted; during the latter part of the decade, he also returned to the music of the swing era with albums including 1999's The Big Band Gospel Classics and Big Band Christmas.