Known for his charming grin and versatile talent, actor Dennis Quaid, 69, has always been equally skilled at both dramatic and comedic roles. He is known best for hit movies such as The Big Easy, The Right Stuff, Great Balls of Fire, The Rookie, The Day After Tomorrow, Wyatt Earp, A Dog’s Purpose and I Can Only Imagine, among many more during a storied Hollywood career that spans almost 50 years.
He’s also recognized as the ex-husband of actress Meg Ryan and father to The Boys and Oppenheimer actor Jack Quaid. But many may not know that the Emmy Award-winning actor and father of 16-year-old twins is also an accomplished musician and a devout Christian…but that is likely to change with the release his new album Fallen: A Gospel Record for Sinners on July 28 via Gaither Music Group.
Quaid has recorded and toured off and on over the years between film projects with his band The Sharks but Fallen offers a different and more intimate look at the talented singer/songwriter. His new 12-song set, produced by David R. “Fergie” Ferguson, Ben Isaacs and Chris Lindsey, features Quaid’s take on seven hymns including beloved classics like “Amazing Grace”, “I’ll Fly Away”, “Just as I Am” and Kris Kristofferson’s emotional “Why Me?” as well as five original songs.
Here, in an interview with WomansWorld.com, Dennis Quaid opens up about his faith journey, overcoming addiction, the inspiration for his new album and his mission to share “the good news.”
Dennis Quaid’s faith journey
Born in in Houston, Texas, Quaid grew up attending a Baptist Church with his family. He recalls going to church services with his parents as a child and says he got baptized at nine years old, the same time as his older brother Randy Quaid, also an actor and comedian known for in Independence Day and the National Lampoons Vacation films.
“He was 12, I remember Randy’s assistant baseball coach came over and talked to him about being baptized,” Quaid tells Woman’s World with a smile as he sits in his publicist’s office on Nashville’s Music Row. “I was watching television in the next room, but I could hear them, and I decided I wanted to get baptized too,” Quaid shares, but he admits that childlike faith changed over time. “I got disillusioned with church.”
As he got older, Quaid began exploring different religions and read the Dhammapada, the Quran and other books of faith. “I went around the world,” the two-time Golden Globe nominee says of searching for God.
“In my 20’s, I had a video recorder and my question to just random people would be, ‘Who is God?’ Then I also got into addiction with cocaine,” Quaid admits. “But after I got over that I read the Bible again. I read it four or times after I recovered, and I was really struck by the red words of Jesus. That really brought me around for the first time to having a personal relationship with Jesus that I don’t think I really understood before because I was trying to handle things myself.”
Dennis Quaid as the Prodigal son
“This album, Fallen, really is me,” Quaid says. “At least for 20 years of my life, [I was] living in the world and wrestling with God, and kind of sitting too close to the devil at times without even knowing it. I think I do have some guardian angels out there though, looking after me, because I made it through. I know some people who didn’t.”
Quaid has definitely lived a life reminiscent of the Prodigal son, but on Fallen, he returns to his faith. “I already had one song written, which was ‘On My Way To Heaven,’ and I guess that’s what really started the idea of doing a gospel record. So I just kind of turned my writing to that and things started to come,” says Quaid, whose last album was 2018’s Out of the Box, which he described as a “junkyard of American music.”
“The first song I wrote for the new album was the title track ‘Fallen.’ That came because I, myself, I’m a sinner,” Quaid says. “I’ve always been a sinner and there’s always room for sinners. Jesus hung out with the sinners. That’s where He went. This is a gospel record for sinners, that’s what I call it, and ‘Fallen’ is a song about that. It’s a prodigal son story and that’s what it was inspired by.”
Another very personal song on the album is “Welcome Home,” inspired by his beloved mother Juanita. “My mother passed four years ago and her idea of heaven is what it tells us in the Bible,” says Quaid, who divides his time between Los Angeles and Nashville. “I remember her telling me what heaven was going to be when I was a little boy because I had asked the question. So I wrote a song called ‘Welcome Home,’ which is about her being in heaven.”
“I just find there’s a beauty in it,” Quaid says when asked about sharing such personal feelings in his songs. “I find it easier to write because it’s more specific and I think people relate to it in their own way.”
Creating “from the heart” music
The album also includes five compelling originals written by Quaid: “Fallen”, “Please Don’t Give Up on Me”, “God Gets Lonely Too”, “Welcome Home” and “On My Way to Heaven,” which was previously featured on the soundtrack I Can Only Imagine. In the blockbuster film Quaid portrayed the abusive father of MercyMe lead vocalist Bart Millard, who wrote and sang the multi-format hit “I Can Only Imagine.”
When it came time to choose hymns to include on the album, Quaid says he just went with his favorites, including “I’ll Fly Away.” “I met the son of Albert Brumley, who wrote the song. He’s actually on it in the background which is really great,” he says. “I think that song has probably been done more than just about any other hymn and it can be done in so many different ways. I tried to do it my own way, just to do it authentically as possible.”
Quaid’s warm, distinctive voice breathes new life into timeless songs such as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and hearing him just speaking his thoughts at the end is so moving that it will bring tears to you eyes. “That was kind of impromptu with the music still going,” he says. “It’s from the heart that’s all.”
“Mountain Railway” features Quaid’s dear friend Harry Dean Stanton singing on the intro. “He was an actor [in Alien, Pretty in Pink and The Green Mile], and he was really an accomplished musician. He introduced me to that song,” Quaid smiles. “What a beautiful song! I think that’s his last recording that he ever made. We just did it on the phone, but he died not too long after that so when it came time to do this album, I wanted the spirit of Harry to be on there, so I just put that on at the beginning. He sounds like the real deal, like something from the 1890’s or something. He’s from Kentucky, and he really brings that old time feeling to it. He was a great mentor for me in life.”
Dennis Quaid proudly sharing his faith
Quaid appreciates getting a chance to share his faith on Fallen and admits, it’s sharing a side that some fans probably aren’t familiar with. “A lot of people get embarrassed,” he says of talking about faith. “I myself was like that. I was kind of embarrassed or reluctant to talk about my faith, to express it because in the world it can almost be an embarrassing topic. Are people going to think you are stupid or gullible?”
But his desire to inspire and uplift others overrode his concerns. “It’s something to give to other people. That’s what it’s for. It’s called the good news,” he says. “People are afraid they are going to get kicked out of the cool club or something for being a Christian. I know. I’ve been there and it seems really ridiculous to me now. It’s about letting go and letting God work in your life.”
Where can I buy Dennis Quaid’s album Fallen?
Pick up Fallen: A Gospel Record for Sinners now on GaitherMusic.com
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Deborah Evans Price believes everyone has a story to tell and, as a journalist, she considers it a privilege to share those stories with the world. Deborah contributes to Billboard, CMA Close Up, Jesus Calling, First for Women, Woman’s World and Country Top 40 with Fitz, among other media outlets. Author of the CMA Awards Vault and Country Faith, Deborah is the 2013 winner of the Country Music Association’s Media Achievement Award and the 2022 recipient of the Cindy Walker Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Western Artists. Deborah lives on a hill outside Nashville with her husband, Gary, son Trey and cat Toby.