1927 - 2021 Author of "The Savior Is Waiting" in The Worshiping Church Ralph Carmichael was born May 27, 1927, in Quincy, Ill. to Rev. Richard and Adelle Carmichael. A graduate of Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), he became head of the school’s music department in his early 20s. His “Campus Christian Hour” that aired on KHJ-TV in Los Angeles, featuring his college band and singers with big band treatments of hymns and gospel songs, won an Emmy in 1951. Other early work involved serving as minister of music for Temple Baptist and Calvary Assembly churches, arranging and conducting musical scores for religious radio shows as well as for numerous sacred artists.
Ralph’s musical talents have given us over 300 gospel songs, including such favorites as “The Savior Is Waiting,” “There Is a Quiet Place,” “Reach Out to Jesus,” and “He’s Everything to Me” to name a few. His songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley, The Carpenters, George Beverly Shea, Bill Gaither, and hundreds of other artists.
Ralph is recognized as the Father of Contemporary Christian Music because of his focus on creating religious music for the new generation of the 1960’s and beyond. In 1968 he founded Light Records and Lexicon Music Publishing to promote new Christian artists and composers in addition to his own music, including projects that were considered too risky for mainstream labels. He also served for several years as president of the Gospel Music Association. Ralph told his life story in his autobiography, “He’s Everything to Me,” that was published in 1986.
His creative arranging skills were quickly noticed by the pop world, and he recorded with numerous big-name artists including Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Clint Walker and Jack Jones. Ralph is well known for his many collaborations with Nat King Cole, including the Christmas album and Nat’s final sessions in 1964. Ralph also became a primary arranger & conductor for pianist Roger Williams, including 1965’s hit “Born Free.”
Ralph wrote numerous movie scores for such diverse classics as “The Blob,” “4D Man” and “The Cross and the Switchblade.” For many years he wrote film music for the Billy Graham organization including “Mr. Texas,” “Oiltown, U.S.A.,” “The Restless Ones,” “For Pete’s Sake” and “His Land” and many others.
For about 25 years, Ralph toured with his own big band. He received the Dove Award in 1994 for his CD “Strike Up the Band.” His last major studio project was to record his symphonic arrangements of 43 great hymns with the London Symphony and Choir. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1985 and the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2001.
Ralph enjoyed his life to the fullest. 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.