Mindy McCready's debut album, Ten Thousand Angels, elevated her into Nashville's music spotlight and established her as a promising singer. Born and raised in southern Florida, McCready (born Malinda Gayle McCready) graduated from high school at the age of 16 with the intention of beginning her musical career early. Following her graduation, she took a part-time job in her mother's ambulance company and began concentrating on performing her music.
When she was 18 years old, she moved to Nashville. She had made her mother a promise that she would go to college if she failed to break into the music industry within the space of a year. After a few months in Nashville, she met producer/songwriter Norro Wilson, who directed her demo tapes to producer David Malloy. Impressed with her tapes, Malloy agreed to work with McCready. For the next year, McCready and Malloy refined the singer's style and crafted a high-class demo tape. Eventually, Malloy took the tape to RLG Records, who signed McCready after seeing her perform a live concert; she completed the deal exactly 51 weeks after she moved to Nashville.
McCready released her debut album, Ten Thousand Angels, in April of 1996 to positive reviews. Within six months of its release, it had gone gold. If I Don't Stay the Night followed in 1997, trailed two years later by I'm Not So Tough. She signed with Capitol Records in April 2000, releasing her debut album for the label, the self-titled Mindy McCready, two years later. But the wheels were starting to come off in McCready's personal life, and in 2004 she pleaded guilty to various drug charges and was fined, given community service, and put on probation. Things got worse. In 2005, McCready ended up in the hospital after being seriously assaulted by her ex-boyfriend -- who was subsequently charged with attempted homicide. Trouble kept coming for McCready, and in 2007 she was given a one-year jail sentence for violating her probation; she also attempted suicide in December 2008.
By 2009, she emerged to appear in the cast of VH1's reality TV series Celebrity Rehab 3. A new album, I'm Still Here, which featured do-overs of her first two hits from way back in 1996 ("Ten Thousand Angels" and "Guys Do It All the Time"), finally appeared in March of 2010. The singles "I Want a Man" and the title track failed to chart, however, and McCready's personal troubles only continued. She gave birth to her second son in 2012, with producer David Wilson, but early in 2013, Wilson committed suicide at their home in Arkansas. Then, just a few weeks later, on February 17, McCready herself was found dead at the same home, an apparent suicide. Tributes and memorials immediately poured in from the country music community, including Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, and Wynonna Judd. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Steve Leggett