He may not be a household name just yet, but his music is known to millions of country music fans. Singer-songwriter Colt Ford, who has just released a new single, "Back," featuring Jake Owen, has spent the past several years building up a strong -- and growing -- fan base, with sales that rival some of today's reigning country superstars. He's hoping his new album, Declaration of Independence, will accelerate that growth even more. But while his music, which is a blend of country and hip-hop, may not earn him top spots on radio charts yet, two of his songs have: Brantley Gilbert's "Country Must Be Country Wide" and Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem," which became one of the best-selling hits of 2011.

Listen to "Back"

"Brantley and I were going to write with another guy [Mike Dekle] that we wrote 'Country Must Be Country Wide' with," Colt recalls to The Boot of the day he penned "Dirt Road Anthem." "We met for lunch and Brantley was like, 'Man I have this idea,' and 25 minutes later we had 'Dirt Road Anthem.' But it was for my record. We didn't think anyone in the world would care about 'Dirt Road Anthem,' or what we were talking about. But it came together that fast, and we recorded it for my album."

The tune quickly became a fan favorite, which was a surprise for everyone, including Colt. "All of a sudden, this song was so popular," says the singer-songwriter. "I was playing with Jason in 2009, and we were in an arena. We were done, and he goes, 'How do all the people know the words to that song?' I was like, 'I don't know, man. It's crazy. They know that song and they love it,' and of course it became the biggest song of his career."

Jason's success from that tune thrills Colt more than anyone. "I couldn't be more proud of him," Colt says. "First of all, because he's a friend of mine. Second, because he's a great guy and he pulled it off. Not everybody could pull it off, but he did and made it his. As a songwriter, when the hottest guy in the business wants to cut your song and make it a single, I was happy about that. I was super proud of it and proud of him. I think he deserves every award out there that there is, to be honest with you."

Although he's happy to have his name attached to chart-topping hits sung by other artists, Colt hopes to be as well-known for his own songs someday.

"I've played a lot of shows, but I'd love to get more airplay," he admits. "I've been fighting and trying and scratching and pawing. I've sold a million records, I've had four million downloads, but for some reason I haven't broken through to radio. Some people seem to be afraid of me. I'm a pretty sweet guy, to be honest with you. I know I'm different. I know I don't sound like George Strait, but everybody shouldn't sound the same. All I want is the chance to be heard, and let the fans decide. That's all I've ever asked for. If they say they don't dig it, fine, but the fact is they do dig it. The numbers show that. It's not my choice."

The "Chicken & Biscuits" singer hopes that his upcoming album, Declaration of Independence, will bridge the gap between his loyal listeners and finding his place on the airwaves. "I think it's the best thing I've ever done, and I'm hoping that I can break through on radio, because I'd like to see what the rest of the world thinks about it," he notes. "Our format is based a lot around radio, the majority of it, so I just want a chance to be heard, like everybody else. I certainly have some songs that aren't made for radio, but you should have that ... I love radio. That's the thing. I love the people and the fans. Nobody loves it more than me."

Declaration of Independence, which includes collaborations with Jason, Boys II Men, Kix Brooks, Montgomery Gentry and Darius Rucker, among others, will hit shelves on August 7. The debut single from the CD, "Back," with Jake Owen was released to radio today (June 12).

Colt will continue his Declaration of Independence tour throughout the summer, with stops in Virginia, Connecticut and Illinois. See a complete list of dates here.

Go Behind the Scenes of Colt's Goodtime Party
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