Ralph Carmichael

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Ralph Carmichael

Ralph Carmichael

Photo credit: 
Jim Pedersen

Ralph Carmichael

Date of Birth

Date of Birth: May 27, 1927
Date of Passing: October 18, 2021
Birthplace: Quincy, Illinois
Obituary: Deadline

Ralph Carmichael was an American composer, arranger, and conductor.

A native of Quincy, Illinois, Carmichael relocated to California to pursue a college education. Beginning in the late 1950s, he wrote and conducted arrangements for recording artists including Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Stan Kenton, Peggy Lee, Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Martino, and Jack Jones.

Ralph Carmichael was an American composer, arranger, and conductor.

A native of Quincy, Illinois, Carmichael relocated to California to pursue a college education. Beginning in the late 1950s, he wrote and conducted arrangements for recording artists including Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Stan Kenton, Peggy Lee, Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Martino, and Jack Jones.

Carmichael’s career got a big boost when his work came to the attention of Capitol Records, who asked him to provide arrangements for a collection of mainly sacred Christmas songs by one of the label's biggest stars, Nat King Cole. The resultant album, 1960’s The Magic of Christmas (which was reissued in 1962 to include Cole’s recording of the Mel Torme/Robert Wells holiday classic, “The Christmas Song”), was the beginning of an ongoing working relationship between Carmichael and Cole, which produced nine full studio projects together, including Cole’s final sessions in 1964 for the album L.O.V.E. In all, Carmichael’s collaborations with Cole outnumber any other single arranger.

Carmichael also worked extensively in television, contributing his arranging, composing, and conducting skills to I Love Lucy, December Bride, Bonanza, The Frankie Laine Show, The Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Show, The King Family Show, and My Mother the Car. He served as music director on television specials for Bing Crosby, Barbara McNair & Count Basie, Oral Roberts, Anita Bryant, and Pat Boone.

Carmichael is generally acknowledged to be the father of contemporary Christian music, because of his focus on creating religious music for young people, beginning in the 1960s. Composer of over 300 gospel songs, Carmichael’s compositions have been sung around the world and are standard in many church hymnals – “The Savior Is Waiting,” “There Is A Quiet Place,” “Reach Out to Jesus,” and “He’s Everything to Me,” among them. His songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley, The Carpenters, George Beverly Shea and hundreds of other artists. Carmichael was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1985 and into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2001.

Carmichael died October 18, 2021, in Camarillo, California. He was 94.

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