Years ago I made a choice, a super sized vow
I said I’d live for Jesus and never back down…
The road’s been long, there’s always been a fight
But God had my back deep into the night…
He’s been my plan A, so everyone can see
I’m living for the Lord and there’s no plan B
Such are the words to the title track of world famous musician Carman’s latest CD. Given his recent bout with multiple myeloma cancer diagnosis, the words couldn’t be more true.
“I was diagnosed in 2013 and was planning on having 2-3 good years left, but I didn’t want to keep it a secret,” confirms Carman of the literal fight for his life.
He adds, “I posted the news on Facebook and wanted to be honest and upright about it with anyone who asked. So many people started sharing stories of what they went through and posted photos of their heads wrapped up because their hair was gone. When I hear a story like that, my instinct is to reach out and cheer them up.”
They did more than want to cheer him up. They pleaded with him to return to music.
He’s what we’ve all been wanting
He’s what the public craves
He’s the king of everything
He’s the one who saves
While the above lyrics were written by Carman in reference to Jesus, such words could easily describe his fan base.
“You never know who’s out there and who you might reconnect with,” he recounts of the decision to officially cast his net into the water and announce his intentions for a new record and tour. “I thought I would get 200-300 posts, which was typically what I got when I posted something significant, and I got 18,000 comments. I didn’t know where all my fans and supporters had gone to since my last release and tour in 2000, but then that overwhelming response came in and showed me just how interested they still were.”
Not only did people reach out to him, but Carman shifted into music mode once again. The result is a very personal record. In true Carman style, it’s a combo of jazzy pop tuns and soulful worship songs with a strong undertone of Gospel music.
In an exclusive interview with Believe.com, Carman gave upfront and insightful answers about his health, his tour, his CD, the music business and, of course, The Lord.
The Believe.com Interview
Tell us a bit about your new CD’s title which is also the title of your first track.
“My plan A has always been to serve the Lord. Even in the worst times it’s still my Plan A – the thing I aspire to do above all tings. There are no other options. I don’t want any other options, so there is no plan B. It’s not like ‘If you can’t do this anymore… If you’re too sick… No.’”
In Romans, Paul talks about joy in less than perfect circumstances. Can you speak to the people who want God as Plan A but are hit with arrows of doubt?
“Well, you have to go with ‘Majority Rules’ in that case. It’s not like every decision you make you know 100% for sure that is exactly what you’re supposed to do… Like God spoke to you and an angel touched your shoulder and woke you up in the middle of the night and gave you the words and you wrote them down and went back to bed. It’s never been like that. If 55% of me says go do this and 45% of me says don’t and and 55% wins out.”
He goes on to add, in pragmatic Carman style, “If you’re looking for a reason to quit anything, you’ll find it.”
Are their any songs on your album that you are most proud of?
(Long pause, then) “Not really. Every one of them has their own identity, you know. They’re like children… it’s hard to separate them. I let people decide what is their favorite.“They come from me so I can’t pick and choose…. The ones I favor are the ones people love the most. I enjoy do them the most because I enjoy doing those the most. If it was another song I would like that one. It doesn’t really matter.”
You are quite the show man on stage. Are you planning on bringing that side of you to the tour?
“I guess so. I don’t know how I can leave him home. Wherever I go, he goes. So when I get on stage, you do what comes naturally and that’s part of it. I’m not even sure exactly what degree that is, but you go up there and perform to the best of your ability and either people like you or they don’t.”
After breaking the Kickstarter record for raising more funds than any other artist in their donation history, being liked is not Carman’s problem. Well, actually it is, but for reasons he never could have anticipated before his diagnosis.
Will you be interacting with your fans while on tour?
“We have some meets and greets, but I can’t go out there and greet every person. One of the reasons why is because of the condition. I have to be careful how many bodies I interact with in a period of time because my immune system has been compromised. The more people I come in contact with the more susceptible I am to people’s viruses. In days gone by, I’d have sat on the edge of the stage until everyone went home.”
Do you have any encouragement for people going through illness?
“You have to get in the right frame of mind. You have to say, ‘Okay, here’s who I am, here’s what we’re doing. This is not going to change. There’s no way around this. This is going to be my life for the next 8, 9 months. And I’m going to be in this apartment over here and I’m go into be going back and forth to the hospital – sometimes two to three times a day. There’s times they’re going to put stuff inside of you that will make you sick… you don’t’ know how sick… you just don’t know.’”
But suffering can’t be any fun, right?
Carman is having none of the pity party talk.In fact, we’re prety sure that if he were in the room he’d have given the official eye roll and scoff.
“If you’re constantly looking at something for everything it’s not, you can get depressed and anxiety ridden in any area of life. People that kill themselves are mostly rich and mostly famous. How many times have they overdosed and how many of them are on drugs?”
Believe.com tried to move onto the next question but Carman, not unlike his music, was passionate. He had more to say on the subject. Who are we to argue?
“Once they finally get there and get everything they think they want, it’s not what they thought it was, so they have to medicate themselves and they have to drink and they have to do all the things they could have done had they never made it. And they wind up living in a little room getting high. So what did we do here? What did we gain? It’s a lie.”
Wow, you have a great attitude, Carman.
Carman could have responded, “Duh.” Instead, he went with:
“Look, if I was relegated to a very small room with a pencil and a pad of paper and a black and white TV and that’s all I had – and I knew that was all I was going to get from here on out - I would adjust my mind to it. I would find my highs and lows and my joys out of whatever was there. If there were other options, I’d take them. But to always want something that’s not there, you don’t have to be sick. You can be flying in a private plane or be in a yacht and every time you pull in there’s a bigger private plane that pulls next to you and it’s Jay Z and they’re walking off and they’re looking at you saying, ‘Look at that tiny plane…’ and you’re thinking ‘One of those days I’m gonna have one of those! I used to have one of those!’ You’re so driven because you’re not happy with what you have.”
How do you balance being an artist with the business side of music?
“There’s nothing to struggle with.”
Carman tells a fictional story about a Christian band who is all on fire for the Lord. He talks about how they came back from church and earnestly wrote a heartfelt song, “Jesus Moved Me in my Soul.” They take it to a record company who says, ‘We love it, but we want to try and get more of a cross over. Can’t you change the Jesus part to “LOVE Moved Me in my Soul” because we can take it further.’
Believe.com can practically see the finger wagging through the phone line.
“If the kid changes that lyric because of that, he’s useless and he can’t be trusted with any other lyrics. And you can’t blame the marketing guys because they are just being trained to do what they do. You need someone with vision. The guys with the songs have the vision, they are the oracles, they are the ones who give direction and tell the army go the left, go to the right.”
Carman is certainly a visionary.
If you want to see Carman on tour or hear his latest CD, check out:
You can also hear some a sampling of his songs for a limited time below.