Health issues haven’t stopped the county music artist from performing and recording.
Some men will not stay knocked down. Looks like Colt Ford is one of them.
The Georgia-born, genre-bending country artist is currently touring to promote his latest album, Must Be the Country, a 24-track collection featuring previously released hits as well as brand new singles recorded with such notables as Tracy Lawrence, Brantley Gilbert, Sam Grow, and Tracy Byrd.
Not so long ago, however, Ford was struggling to recover from a series of setbacks that wreaked havoc with his physical and mental health. At one point, he wondered whether he’d survive. But now, he says, he’s thriving.
“I’ve been fighting through it,” he revealed during our recent telephone conversation. “And it did take me to a dark place. But my fiancé been just an absolute angel for me. And she’s encouraged me, and let me be upset when I need to be upset — and kicked me in my butt when she told me to quit being down. That’s made all the difference in the world. And I got a lot of good friends, and people like you that still care about me and talk to me. And I got all this new music. I feel like I got the best music of my life right now coming out.”
Here are some other highlights from our conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
Cowboys & Indians: Well Colt, let’s start out with the most important question: Just how are you feeling these days?
Colt Ford: I’m feeling pretty good. Honestly, everything in my life is great — except I got diagnosed with this stupid autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis. I hadn’t really talked about it much. In fact, I’m just now starting to talk about it, because I just had a couple of my artist friends the other day say, “Why don’t you tell nobody?” I’m like, “Well, what were you going to do?” And they’re like, “We can pray for you.” And I’m like, “Yeah. I agree with that.”
C&I: Prayers are always welcome, right?
Ford: [Laughs] I guess. For me, everybody’s had so much stuff to deal with since the pandemic. It’s been so hard on everybody and I just didn’t want to be like, “Oh, listen to my problem. It’s a big deal, or worse than yours.” I didn’t want to be that guy. So it’s been a little tough, because back during the pandemic, I had a cancer thing in my eye, in the same eye. And when the cancer got removed, everything was fine, and everything was going great — and my golf game was back. In fact, I played in two champions tour events. I was shooting 65 every day. But then all of a sudden, I woke up one day and I couldn’t open my right eye.
Ford: Yeah, so I went to all these doctors, and they diagnosed me with this autoimmune disease — and they say there’s no cure for it. It affects the muscles in your face and your throat. It really hasn’t bothered my throat that much yet, and that’s good, because I can still do my songs and perform. But my golf game went from 65 to 100 overnight, and it sent me down a pretty dark hole, to be honest with you. Just depression. All of a sudden, my vision was so bad. I could see clearly out of either eye, but when I try to look at them together, I'll see three of you and you’re melting like a lava lamp.
C&I: And yet you didn’t let it keep you down in that dark hole. Good for you.
Ford: It was just so maddening to me. I mean, there’s so much stuff in my life going well — and then the devil tries to jump in there and take me down. But I’m really feeling better now. I’m about to try a new drug that’s going to supposedly really help what’s going on, because it just screwed up my depth perception and my vision so bad. But I’ve been recording. I recorded a ton of music during all this, and that's been awesome. And I’m getting married in October, so I found my person. I got great things going on with that. But I’m just trying to fight through this and I feel like I’m on the other side of it. The good news is I can pull off the pirate look, because I got the hair and everything. For some people it’d be a bigger problem, but I can pull off this pirate look completely.
C&I: Like, “Arrrgh, maties! Here’s some country music!”
Ford: Exactly. I’ve always been in search of the booty anyway — so, heck, it works out all right for me.
C&I: So now you’re out touring again, and you’ve released your first full-length studio album in three years, Must Be the Country. I love the title track — it’s very celebratory, it’s very happy. But I have to ask: Did you record this while you were fighting your various medical issues?
Ford: I did. It’s a song I did with Dillon Carmichael, who is the nephew of John Michael Montgomery and Eddie Montgomery, and who’s just having a lot of success right now. I’ve watched him grow up, and he’s just a big, sweet guy. And I loved what he was doing, and how he is just this country boy that sings country music. This song was just so much fun for me. I got it from my buddy, Cole Taylor, who’s a big songwriter in Nashville — and also a Georgia boy — and it just really spoke to me. The vibe of the song is just being happy about country life, and the way we love and the things that we love.
And it’s fun for me to be truly singing. Most of this album is me singing, not really doing much of the rappy stuff, or spoken word, or whatever. It’s mostly me singing. So this cut is a true singing duet, and it feels like some old Brooks & Dunn kind of stuff. I’m not comparing myself to Ronnie Dunn by the least, but I played it for him and he’s like, “Colt, man, you should have been singing the whole time, dude. You sound great.” So I’m super excited about this record.
C&I: Do you find music works as a kind of therapy for you?
Ford: I’m going to tell you what, bubba — if I didn’t have music with what I’ve been going through here the last little bit, well, full disclosure, I’m not sure we’d be having this interview. No question about it. I thought about that a lot in May, when we had Mental Health Awareness Month. I know I’ve struggled. And I think we as men, especially, we’ve been taught to suck it up and do whatever and hang in and just be tough and all that. There’s a lot of truth to that, as far as what we need. But at the same time, pride can kill you.
So you got to be able to stand up and talk to some people if you’re not feeling good. Speak to some people and tell them what’s going on. And I think as men, we got to do a better job of saying, “Hey man. I’m hurting a little bit, and I need some help from my brothers, or whoever.” And so I’m really working hard at doing that.
And yeah, music’s certainly therapy for me. There ain’t no question about it.