When country singer, songwriter and actor Ed Bruce died in 2021, he left a legacy of great songs, many of which were recorded by other artists, others by Bruce himself. Some of the best-known include “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson), “Restless” (Crystal Gayle) and Tanya Tucker’s “Texas (When I Die).” One of his biggest hits, as a singer, was “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had,” while he was signed with MCA Records, and there were many more.

Now, Bruce’s estate has rereleased two little-known, independently produced Christian albums he recorded nearly two decades ago, which received little attention: “Changed” and “Sing About Jesus.”

“When Ed made those albums, he was no longer signed to a label,” his widow, Judy Bruce, explained. “He had about a thousand CDs printed, which he sold out of the trunk of his car. Digital distribution was a new thing, and Ed didn’t understand it. He was happy just singing in front of twenty people or twenty-thousand and selling a handful of CDs here and there.”

The Bruces were married in 1989 after meeting 10 years earlier while working at MCA Records. By the time they married, Bruce had stopped recording music to focus on an acting career which included several TV shows and movies, including “Walker, Texas Ranger” with Chuck Norris, “Fire Down Below” with Steven Seagal, “Country Strong” with Gwyneth Paltrow and others. In the early 1980s, he had costarred in the NBC series “Bret Maverick” with James Garner.

The couple lived in Clarksville, Tennessee, during the last few years of his life but were living on a farm in Hickman County when he became a Christian in 2003. As his wife tells it, Bruce had an epiphany while riding his tractor one cool Sunday morning in March, when some deer ran in front of him and he was suddenly struck by the beauty of nature.

“He came back to the house and said he realized at that moment that ‘He lives,’ meaning Jesus lives,” she said. “He sat down and started writing that song. I told Ed, ‘You have got to put out a Christian album.” He said, ‘We don’t have the money,’ and I said, ‘Well, we might. I’ve been rat-holing for a long time.’”

With the money that his wife had secretly saved for a rainy day, Bruce self-produced his first Christian album, “Changed” in 2004, followed by “Sing About Jesus” in 2007. Both projects were recorded at County Q in Nashville, with “Changed” being co-produced by John W. Thompson, whose producing credits include records by Earl Scruggs, the Bill Gaither Trio, Doug Oldham, the Oak Ridge Boys, Roseanne Cash, Mel Tillis, Bonnie Bramlett, the Burrito Brothers and Don Francisco.

Some of Bruce’s former associates are planning to produce an album of his unreleased recordings, in the near future. For now, his widow is passionate about getting the word out about his obscure Christian albums, which meant so much to them both.

 “I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when Ed became born again; it changed him tremendously,” she said. “He wrote these songs from the heart. They are too good to just be on a few hundred CDs, so now they are online where anyone can hear them.”

 The albums are available on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, and other digital platforms. CDs are available, while supplies, through his website, EdBruceMusic.com.