Born Nov. 30, 1975, in Fort Myers, Fla., Malinda Gayle McCready — better known as Mindy McCready — burst onto the country music scene in the mid-1990s with the release of her 1996 debut album, Ten Thousand Angels, on BNA Records.
The record was a massive success, spawning four successful singles, including her first and only No. 1 hit of her career, "Guys Do It All the Time." That year, she earned a nomination for the Academy of Country Music Awards' coveted title of Top New Female Vocalist, alongside fellow burgeoning talents Deana Carter and award winner LeAnn Rimes.
Her career flourished with the release of her follow-up record If I Don't Stay the Night in 1997, but her 1999 LP I'm Not So Tough wasn't a commercial success. After being dropped from her deal with Capitol Records, the charismatic country talent suddenly vanished from the music scene.
Over the next few years, McCready was faced with an array of personal struggles and traumatic experiences. In 2004, she was arrested for using a fake prescription to obtain the opioid painkiller OxyContin. The following year, her boyfriend of two years, William Patrick "Billy" McKnight, was charged with attempted murder after he allegedly broke into McCready's home and attacked her.
The final years of McCready's life were highly publicized in the media because of her personal issues. After multiple suicide attempts and run-ins with the law, she joined the cast of VH1's Celebrity Rehab 3 with Dr. Drew Pinksy in hopes of overcoming her issues with addiction.
Mindy McCready died by suicide on Feb. 17, 2013, at the age of 37. She was found on her front porch, in the same spot where her partner, record producer David Wilson, fatally shot himself one month earlier.
Although her life and career were tragically cut short, her music continues to impact country fans and aspiring artists. The darker aspects of her history often overshadow the importance of her fearless attitude and unapologetically feminine perspective on the country music culture. Alongside fellow hitmakers of the time like Shania Twain and Wynonna Judd, McCready paved the way for a new generation of fearless female artists.
Take a look at 10 of the best songs from country singer Mindy McCready.
"I Want a Man"From: 'I'm Still Here' (2010)
In what would become the final single of McCready's career, "I Want a Man" finds the vocalist wishing for a partner to stand by her side and treat her right. It's an example of the immense talents still held within, even 14 years after the release of her breakthrough debut.
"All I Want Is Everything"From: 'I'm Not So Tough' (1999)
Although it didn't find the same success on country radio as McCready's earlier singles, "All I Want Is Everything" features the same fearlessness and vocal gusto of her trademark hits.
"I'm Still Here"From: 'I'm Still Here' (2010)
In 2010, McCready released her fifth studio album, I'm Still Here, hoping to come back onto the country scene. The record's title track is a poignant declaration of persistence, which now feels all the more haunting.
"On a cold dark cloud with nowhere to fall but down," she sings. "Like a single, naked, unrelenting tear, I'm still here."
"What If I Do"From: 'If I Don't Stay the Night' (1997)
In 1997, McCready gave country fans a hint of what was to come from her sophomore album If I Don't Stay the Night with the lead single "What If I Do." One of her biggest gifts as a vocalist was her ability to sing almost conversationally, relaying intimate messages to the listener as though they were a close friend. Here, we find McCready trying to decide if she should take the next steps with the object of her affection or tap the breaks.
"Maybe, Maybe Not"From: 'Mindy McCready' (2002)
The first track from McCready's self-titled fourth album tells the story of a woman who gets an unexpected reminder of past love. She wistfully weighs the pros and cons of reaching out on the tune, which became McCready's last song to appear on the country charts.
"You'll Never Know"From: 'If I Don't Stay the Night' (1997)
Written and originally recorded by hit country songwriter Kim Richey, McCready put her own spin on this track about moving forward after heartbreak and released it as a single in 1998. The song's music video was directed by McCready's then-fiancee, actor Dean Cain, shortly before the pair separated.
"Maybe He'll Notice Her Now" (with Richie McDonald)From: 'Ten Thousand Angels' (1996)
McCready teamed up with Lonestar lead vocalist Richie McDonald for this captivating breakup ballad, which became a Top 20 hit on country radio.
"Ten Thousand Angels"From: 'Ten Thousand Angels' (1996)
Penned by Billy Henderson and Steven Dale Jones, "Ten Thousand Angels" served as the lead single and title track of McCready's debut album. The powerful plea for relief from a devastating heartbreak rose to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1996.
"A Girl's Gotta Do (What a Girl's Gotta Do)"From: 'Ten Thousand Angels' (1996)
Although "A Girl's Gotta Do (What a Girl's Gotta Do)" was the final single from McCready's triumphant debut record, it was also one of her career bests. Surprisingly, this uplifting ode to perseverance and independence as a woman was written by two men, Robert Byrne and Rick Bowles. But it's McCready's emotion and attitude that made this Top 5 hit a gem that stands up against the best 90s country cuts.
"Guys Do It All the Time"From: 'Ten Thousand Angels' (1996)
In 1996, McCready's biting response to stereotypical gender roles became a smash hit, rising to the top of the country charts. Written by Kim Tribble and Bobby Whiteside, the infectiously fierce tune showcased her outstanding vocal gifts while offering up a fun and feminine anthem that holds up nearly 20 years later.