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Pauli Carman sharing stage upon return to Celebration
Pauli Carman on the cover of his new album, 'Carma'

Don't be too confused on the opening night of Decatur Celebration if you find three young men rapping on the Goodtimes Stage.

Rhythm and blues artist Pauli Carman of the band Champaign is sharing his spotlight with new talent who are under his label, PDC Entertainment.

Kalizion (pronounced Ka-lee-zee-on), Genesis Luster and Trent Washington will be the opening acts Aug. 1 for Carman and Champaign.

"They have a freshness in their music capabilities that they bring to the music industry, as opposed to what they call me - old school," Carman said with a laugh. "Each one is talented in their own right."

Carman, formerly of Decatur, said he is looking for more artists to add to his label.

"It's a giving back of sorts," he said. "I am so blessed from my music career. It makes me feel good to be able to do that."

Carman is the only original member left with the 1980s band Champaign, even after leaving for a brief solo career in the mid-'80s. Champaign, named for the group's hometown, was widely popular for the 1981 hit single "How 'Bout Us."

Today, the band's lineup is Sandy Phillips (background vocals), Justin Phillips (drums), Chris Courtney (bass), Mike Weeks (guitar) and Sam Hankins, Mark Cornel and Kelly Corbin (horns), with Carman as lead vocalist and songwriter.

Champaign recently released the album "Carma," which is available on Carman's Web site.

Carman described the nalbum as eclectic and including "all of the elements of (the former) Champaign" and more.

"We got pigeonholed into a ballads band," Carman said, "but we had this funky side, too. This album shows that funkiness we had in us."

He added, "The soulfulness of music has been overlooked in the industry today. ? This is good music the way it used to be."

Producing and promoting the album has kept Carman busy. So has his filming of a reality television show that is "sort of a day in the life kind of thing," he said.

"I don't talk much about it now, as its still being developed."

Carman is responsible for writing the Decatur Celebration theme song, which was recorded by Carman and the Decatur Park Singers in 1986 under the direction of Orv Graham, said Decatur Celebration media relations manager Ayn Owens.

"We use it as our hold music" when people call the Celebration office, she said.

Carman recalled being pleasantly shocked and honored to hear the song he wrote years ago playing over the phone when he called their office.

"It's been a long time since I've been back," he said, and he hopes to catch up with family and friends while he's here. "I'm looking forward to coming back home to perform."

Alicia Spates can be reached at aspates@herald-review.com or 421-6986.

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