When Colt Ford has an idea, it usually pays dividends.
In 2008, the smooth country rappin’ phenomenon co-founded Average Joes Entertainment, an independent record company where he is the flagship artist and whose roster of talent includes Montgomery Gentry, LoCash Cowboys, Bubba Sparxxx, and Nappy Roots.
Also in that year, Ford co-wrote “Dirt Road Anthem,” a song his friend Jason Aldean covered in 2011, helping make him one of the biggest stars in country music.
But Ford’s latest idea doesn’t exactly pertain to music. It involves a gym, an accomplished MMA fighter, and a camera crew. “It would be cool to put together a reality show and have a pro fighter train me,” the 43-year-old says. “I’d either die or become a badass, one or the other.”
About 30 years ago, Ford—whose real name is Jason Farris Brown—was a middle school kid whose only real glimpse into the martial arts were from Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris flicks. That soon changed when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was being taught in his hometown of Athens, Georgia. Intrigued, Ford gave it a try and enjoyed it. His training was brief, however, and he began to focus on golf, eventually playing in a Nationwide tour event and becoming an instructor.
Despite taking a permanent leave from the submission world, he watched some of the early UFCs and identified with the first family of BJJ.
“I always liked the Gracies,” says Ford. “It’s amazing when you look at some of the things they’ve done. They look so undersized, but they just dominated. They had the ability to utilize their leverage. I played professional golf for a living, and that’s a leverage thing. That’s why Roy McIlroy hits the ball a long way. He’s not 6’5,” he’s 5’9” and 165 pounds, so a lot of that has to do with leverage and angles. A lot of martial arts is proper technique, leverage, and angles, and the little guy can take a big guy any day if you do it correctly.”
Ford began watching MMA more regularly, starting in the TUF era, and soon he had a stable of favorite fighters, including Andrei Arlovski, Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Georges St-Pierre, Randy Couture, and former Athens resident Forrest Griffin.
“I’m a really competitive person, and their mentality is something I try to apply in my life,” Ford says. “You watch those guys and there’s no quit in them. Those guys just keep going. They don’t care about what the deal is, they just go until the final bell. I like that mentality.”
Ford spent much of his career songwriting for all types of artists, ranging from country musicians Jamey Johnson and future label mate Montgomery Gentry, to alternative rock band Lit, hip-hop producer/rapper Jermaine Dupri, and bite-sized rap duo Kriss Kross. But yearning for more, he took a shot at performing and recording some of his own material.
In 2008, he forged his own way into the industry by launching Average Joes Entertainment with Shannon Houchins. Accompanied with a country rap vocal, the southern fried bossman released his debut album Ride Through The Country later that year, which contained the original version of “Dirt Road Anthem” that he co-wrote with Brantley Gilbert.
Although the independent hustle and the lack of major label muscle made it difficult to get placement on the radio—much less become mainstreamed—Ford has become a success story, as he built an organic following of diehard fans. While he continued to pick up more and more steam with his next two LPs, 2010’s Chicken & Biscuits and 2011’s Every Chance I Get, his most recent effort, Declaration of Independence, topped the Billboard Country Albums Chart and peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200.
Released in August 2012, Declaration of Independence is a sincere 15-track collection where the country melodicism perfectly complements Ford’s signature flow. Some of the highlights include the reflective “Back,” featuring Jake Owen; the woodgrain whip banger “Drivin’ Around Song” with Jason Aldean; the party smash “All In,” featuring Kix Brooks; and the EDM-flavored “Dancin’ While Intoxicated (DWI)” with LoCash Cowboys and Redneck Social Club.
Also included is the leadoff single “Answer to No One,” featuring JJ Lawhorn, which—if Ford had a midlife crisis and decided to become a fighter— would be his theme song.
“That’s a pretty badass song. That says it all there,” says Ford. “I think most fighters feel that way. Other than the Good Lord, I ain’t scared of none of y’all. I think that’s the attitude you gotta have, and that’s what I wanted to convey in that song. I would imagine a lot of MMA fans are probably country music fans—hard working, blue-collar folks who go out there and get it done every day. I have a lot of respect for people who do that.”