Colt Ford Biography
Last updated: 12/24/2013 06:12:27 AM
Colt Ford is a walking, talking 300-pound celebration of country music and country living. His songs pay tribute to the people, pastimes and attitudes that define a lifestyle embraced from Texas to Wisconsin, from Florida to Washington State and a lot of places in between. For all the bigger-than-life excitement that defines his music and his stage show, though, Colt is quick to point to what lies underneath it all.
"I'm just an average Joe who's been blessed with the ability to write music and who loves to perform," he says. "I talk about everyday real country life and I believe in real country values—God, family, friends, and hard work. And if that ain't country, I don't know what is."
His connections to the lifestyle run deep. An avid sports fan and outdoorsman, he wrote "Buck 'Em" for the Professional Bull Riders Association, and "Huntin' The World," the award-winning theme song of the popular Outdoor Channel show of the same name, and he capped a lifetime of appreciation for country music's rich musical heritage when he made his debut early in 2010 on the Grand Ole Opry.
Colt's specialty is spoken-word country in the tradition of a line of hits that travels from Toby Keith's "I Want To Talk About Me" to Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" (a song he covers to huge effect in concert) through Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" and C. W. McCall's "Convoy" to Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" and "What Is Truth." His latest CD, Chicken and Biscuits, sets his world-class story-telling ability to cutting-edge music played by some of Nashville's best players. It brings together the energy of hip-hop and the depth and rootedness of country in a project destined to carry Colt's unique sound to an even wider audience.
Chicken and Biscuits, produced by Jayson Chance and Shannon "Fatshan" Houchins, is Colt's second studio album, following his 2008 breakthrough Ride Through The Country, which catapulted the Georgia native to mainstream status, with sales of more than 150,000 and paid downloads approaching half a million,
C&B "is one hundred percent me with a lot of growth from the first record," he says, "but I didn't lose who I was." A high-octane excursion through the best of life and love, it celebrates country women ("Chicken & Biscuits," "All About Ya'll," "She Ain't Too Good For That"), country life ("Cricket On A Line," "We Like To Hunt"), and the blue collar people who keep it all running ("Tool Timer" and a fiery remake of C.W. McCall's classic "Convoy"), among other subjects.
The project provides plenty of examples of the wealth of peer respect and support Colt has earned. It features a long list of all-star guest vocalists, including Rhett Akins, James Otto, Randy Houser, Josh Gracin, Darryl Worley, Joe Nichols, Ira Dean and DMC, to name just a few. The world-class musicians backing the project include a Who’s Who of Nashville’s session greats, on board because of their appreciation for Colt’s musical approach.
Chicken and Biscuits perfectly captures the spirit that has energized packed houses across the country and spurred many Colt fans to drive hours to follow his shows from town to town. It's a reaction that has made him one of the most genuinely grateful and fan-friendly performers in the business—he is in touch with fans on a daily basis online and he is adamant about meeting with them after his shows.
"I’m a big boy and you can bet I get tired up there," he says, "but I do what I do visiting with people and signing autographs because I have the best fans in the world. I’m inspired by their energy and I want to give them everything I’ve got.”
In part the connection is there because Colt Ford is cut from the same cloth as the people who flock to his shows. He grew up outside Athens, Georgia, drinking in Southern country culture with the water, developing a deep appreciation for the outdoors and enjoying every kind of popular music that floated across the airwaves in a state whose musical icons are as diverse as they are talented.
"I never got into music," he says. "Music got into me. It's always been a part of my life."
His first concert was Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, but as a teenager his appreciation for hip-hop and R&B led him in that direction as well. A sports enthusiast from early on, he excelled at both golf and music by the time he reached adulthood. When, as a young married man with a baby on the way, his wife advised him to choose one and throw himself whole-heartedly into it, he chose golf.
"I figured I had a better chance of making a living at that," he says.
He spent more than a decade doing just that with his golf clubs, but he kept making music on the side.
"Even though I was doing something else for a living," he says, "I could never just cut this off. It's who I am."
With encouragement from his wife, he wrote "Buck 'Em" for the PBR, and the organization quickly made it its anthem. Colt made his musical and video debut on national television at the VERSUS Invitational Pro Bull Riding competition in Madison Square Garden in January 2007. He was off and running.
His unique combination of musical styles came about in part because of what he saw in honky-tonks, where when the country band took a break, "The DJ's would play hip-hop and those country girls would be out there on the floor dancing to it. I knew there was a place for combining them."
Talent and stage presence were essential, but Colt knew the bottom line was keeping it real.
"I tried to write songs I would like and that I thought people like me would like," he says. "I wrote about things they know about, and I can't tell you how often someone will say, 'Are you from my home town?' I'll say no and they'll say, 'You must be, because you write about exactly who we are and what we do.' That's the connection. I just tried to be honest and real, and this is what happened. They know I'm one of them."
Putting it on stage was just a matter of letting his Inner Country Boy out, and that's where the Colt Ford persona let him become a true force of nature with no hesitation about taking country music and the country life over the top.
"I'm really just a guy who put on different clothes to be himself," he says. "I'm probably more comfortable in Colt Ford's skin than in my own. I know I don't necessarily look like the average country star, but I think when people see me on stage they think, 'Wow, man! Is that dude having fun!' They'll never see me just go through the motions. I've been up there with a 103 degree fever, during a bout with kidney stones, and when I'm beyond tired, but that adrenaline and those crowds guarantee that they'll know this fat Georgia boy is giving them every single thing he's got."
He and his friend of 20 years Shannon Houchins arrived in Nashville "not knowing anything about the way the business was done," he says, but they began meeting people and impressing them with their music and their drive.
There were two huge signs that he had turned a corner and gone from dream to reality. The first was when John Michael Montgomery and Jamey Johnson agreed to be part of his record.
"That was really cool," he says. "I thought, 'I'm not paying these guys. They're doing it because they like the music,' and I knew I was on to something."
The second happened at a Fourth of July show in Valdosta, Georgia, two years ago.
"We were taking the band live for the first time in a big way," he says. "There were five thousand people in the crowd. I got off that stage at 10:00 and I signed the last autograph at 1:30 in the morning. I thought, 'Holy Cow! These people came to see me!’"
Colt and Shannon formed their own label, Average Joes Entertainment, both to stay in control of their approach and to put their own vision into play.
"We're a true independent," says Colt. "We came to town as two dudes nobody knew from Adam's housecat and started this. We found our own manufacturer and our own distribution deal. Yeah, it's harder in a lot of ways, but it is absolutely more satisfying. You can't put a value on sweat equity, and I love doing it. Shannon and I are best friends and we don't agree all the time but at the end of the day he's still my best friend and we're still in this together."
Along the way, Colt Ford has become one of the hardest working entertainers anywhere.
"I played 210 shows last year and I'll probably do that many this year," he says. "The truth of the matter is I love playing. It's tough being away from home, from my wife and kids. They get to come out now and then, but the best time to sell peanuts is when the circus is in town. When people want to see a fat boy from Georgia get up and do this thing, I'm going to do it. I know every time I step on that stage and see that crowd reaction that fans are hungry for something different, and I'm here to give it to them."