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A new chapter has begun in Carman's life. After a distinguished 25-year career, Carman and Sparrow Records are launching a new ministry campaign that begins with this new 2-disc greatest hits compilation, Heart of a Champion. He's just started a huge, 73-city tour in promotion of this new project and ministry. Next February, we'll also see a new video compilation featuring music videos from the last ten to fifteen years, as well as the release of the film Heart of a Champion, which stars Carman. We'll be seeing a lot of this man in the next year.
While some have questioned the need for a new greatest hits compilation of Carman's work, they should note that only one track ("The Champion") is shared with his previous hits collection, The Absolute Best. The rest of the songs are taken primarily from his '90s projects, like R.I.O.T. and Mission 3:16, though there are some tracks from his classic album, Radically Saved. My philosophy is, a greatest hits collection is justified as long as it's not a shameless repackaging of a previous hits album, and if the artist in question has a career that warrants a first or second greatest hits collection. Carman meets these criteria, and Heart of a Champion might be considered "Greatest Hits Vol. 2 & 3" after his Absolute Best collection. Whether or not you like Carman's music, the man has had a very successful 25 years as a Christian artist.
But besides capsulizing more of Carman's best, Heart of a Champion should interest fans, because there are six new tracks on it. Break that down to three new songs per disc, and that's pretty fair for a greatest hits album. The Latin feel of the title track sounds a little too much like Ricky Martin or Enrique Iglesias — it is nevertheless well performed, and one of the more listenable Carman tracks that I've ever heard. "Jesus Period" is a quasi-metal rocker (sounding like Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine") about the need for Jesus in the deteriorating lives of our youth. The musical gears then shift to an inspirational ballad called "Prayer." "Faith Enough" is a peppy dance-pop track that features ZOEgirl on backing vocals. "Just Like He Said" is another fun Latin track, but since it sounds a lot like "Heart of a Champion," it's one Latin track too many for this collection. And finally, "I Promise" is a pretty pop duet with Tammy Trent that's sure to find its way into wedding ceremonies everywhere. As well done as these new tracks are, I sincerely wish Carman had a single artistic style, rather than being a musical chameleon with a different sound on every song. I have a hard time comprehending how a single listener can enjoy listening to Carman the rapper, Carman the Latin-dance king, and Carman the inspirational pop-crooner.
The only other question I have is not whether or not this is a worthy or necessary collection, but rather why the PR behind all these new projects for Carman is suggesting he's been on a four- or five-year recording and touring hiatus? Touring aside, hasn't he put out Mission 3:16 in 1998 and a praise album in 1999? It doesn't sound like Carman has been very absent to me! Plus the packaging on Heart of a Champion reads "A Collection of 30 Hits," but with six new tracks, isn't that a little optimistic? Questionable PR aside, Heart of a Champion has a lot to offer to the fans with the new tracks. It's also a good summary of the last thirteen years for one of Christian music's most influential artists.