Ed Bruce headlines Highway 23 Jamboree

By Dave Lavender
The Herald-Dispatch
Huntington, West Virginia
February 27, 2004

     The life of Ed Bruce has taken many a good twist and turn, from being signed to Sun Records in 1957 while still in high school to writing one of the most memorable songs in country music history, "Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys."
     But the soft-spoken, deep-voiced singer, songwriter and actor whose multi-media career has spanned five decades doesn't take a bit of credit for such a blessed life.
     "I came to the conclusion that all the good things that have happened to me in life are not necessarily my fault," Bruce said with a laugh. "God has blessed me."
     Bruce, who headlines WTCR's Highway 23 Jamboree Saturday night at the Paramount Arts Center with Daryle Singletary, said he came to that conclusion about four years ago when the Lord spoke to him while he was out on his tractor on his Hickman County, Tenn. Farm, where he raises Tennessee Walking Horses and English Setters.
     Like Saul on the road to Damascus, Bruce got some life-changing "orders from headquarters" to make a U-turn toward God.
     Bruce said the feeling was so powerful it caused him to go straight to the house and pour out his soul in song.
     The tough, chiseled Western actor who co-starred in everything from "Bret Maverick" with James Garner to "The Return of Frank and Jesse James" hasn't been the same since.
     "It was just that moment of conviction that day out on a Massey-Ferguson tractor when the Lord slapped me upside the head," Bruce said.
     His newfound faith is being strengthened with a Bible study that also includes guitarist Jerry Reed, and is about to come pouring out in a new all-original, all-gospel album that he will start recording March 8 at County Q studios in Nashville.
     Although folks had been asking the award-winning songwriter to cut a gospel album for years, he said he didn't feel right in his heart to do so until he "made the U-turn."
     For the project, Bruce has been writing over the past few years with writers such as John Thompson, who co-wrote the Amy Grant hit "El Shaddai," as well as Bruce's longtime co-writer Ron Peterson.
     The tentative title is "Changed," a song that Peterson and Bruce wrote.
     Bruce said he hopes to share at least one of his new songs at the Jamboree, though he knows folks will want a good, long drink of his string of cowboy country such as "My First Taste of Texas," "When You Fall In Love Everything's a Waltz," "The Last Cowboy Song" and "After All."
     "I'll get it cut and then we'll make some decisions about what to do at that point," Bruce said. "There's a lot involved in getting an album out, and I'm not going to rush anything. It's been over sixty years now, so what's another couple three weeks? It's all going to happen in His time.

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