Colt Ford is a rare breed of country. A rising name from Athens, Ga., the artist is a unique hybrid of hip-hop and backroads — a quality that not only makes him stand out among the crowd, but has made his journey to stardom an uphill climb.

Ford abandoned a professional golfing career to pursue music and released his first album in 2008. Ride Through the Country featured a duet with John Michael Montgomery and appearances by surprising guests like rappers Bone Crusher and Jermaine Dupri and rock band No Doubt’s Adrian Young. While the album was not a runaway hit, it did put Ford on the Billboard Hot Country charts.

An appearance on a rap remix of Montgomery Gentry’s no. 1 single "Roll With Me" got Ford some valuable exposure, and not long after, he co-wrote and recorded "Dirt Road Anthem," later released by co-writer Brantley Gilbert and made even more famous by Jason Aldean in 2010. The song is just one example of Ford’s signature style, blending the storytelling elements of both rap and country to create a vivid picture and a strong message.

Since then, Ford released his third and fourth studio albums, Every Chance I Get and Declaration of Independence, the latter of which became his first No. 1 album on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Its debut single, "Back," a duet with Jake Owen, was a Top 40 hit and added a new checkpoint to Ford’s journey to becoming a full-fledged country star.

Ford’s fifth album, Thanks for Listening, was released in July 2014 and features collaborations with several household names, including Keith Urban, Chase Rice, Justin Moore, and even Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Ford will join Toby Keith on the Shut Up and Hold On tour this summer, and both will be playing the Taste of Country Music Festival in Hunter Mountan, N.Y. June 12-14.

Watch Colt Ford Sing His Version of "Dirt Road Anthem"