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.