Sound credentials: Country classic

“Most country folks sing, but I couldn’t, so I’m rapping.” So says Colt Ford on the title track from his album, Ride Through the Country.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 5 Aug 2009, 12:02 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:03 PM

An intriguing amalgam of country lyrics laced with hip-hop beats, the Average Joes Entertainment album is has sold 54,000 copies since its October release and is No. 24 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. The project was part of Wal-Mart’s Country Picks programme for July.

The sales presumably result from Ford’s heavy touring — he’ll do 200-plus dates this year — and not because of scattered radio airplay for the title-cut single, which features country star John Michael Montgomery.

“For whatever reason, America loves the funny, fat white dude, and I’m in that category,” Ford says in his Georgia drawl. “I’m just a 300-pound country boy who shops at Wal-Mart. I’m not singing a three-minute love song, but people like what I do.”

A country fan in his youth, Ford later gravitated to R&B and hip-hop. He eventually recorded an album with producer Jermaine Dupri (Mariah Carey, Usher) that never saw the light of day. “I’m glad it worked out the way it did,” Ford says. “I might have made a million dollars, but it wouldn’t have been authentic. At the end of the day, that’s what music is about.”

After his aborted hip-hop career, Ford worked for six years as a professional golfer. But his wife encouraged him to pursue his musical dreams, and he began to meld his hip-hop sensibilities with his country roots. “I never thought it would work,” he says. “I didn’t want to do something that would be stupid as hell. I wanted people to hear it and say, ‘That’s country’.”

Despite his hip-hop leanings, Ford describes himself as a country singer. “I hate the term ‘country rap,”’ he says. “It throws people off. I consider myself a country singer like Toby Keith or the Charlie Daniels Band. That’s what I do.”

Ford’s album includes guest performances by Jamey Johnson, Adrian Young of No Doubt, Jeremy Popoff of Lit, Bone Crusher, Attitude and Brantley Gilbert.

Many of Ford’s concert gigs in the coming months include performances with Jason Aldean, whom Ford hopes to convince to appear on his next record, and the duo Montgomery Gentry. A remix version of Montgomery Gentry’s hit Roll With Me — which Ford and the duo perform together in concert — can be found online.

Ford says his journey from hip-hop artist to golfer to country singer may leave some scratching their heads. “I know that’s not how most people end up in Nashville,” he says, “but that’s the path I took.”

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