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Mindy McCready

Country singer;

Born: November 30, 1975; Died: February 17, 2013.

Mindy McCready, who has died aged 37, was in many ways the personification of the country song – there was trouble with men, alcohol and sex – but in other ways, she was exactly the opposite of the country cliche – her first hit was a post-country song which rejected the traditional image of the downhearted woman done wrong by her man and presented a new, assertive role model for country music fans.

McCready was born in Fort Myers, Florida, and began singing in her Pentecostal church when she was three. Later, she started performing karaoke and at 18 told her mother that she wanted to go to Nashville to have a stab at stardom. She promised that if she hadn't made it within a year, she would come home.

She arrived in Nashville in 1994, but for most of that year, it looked like success would not happen. She touted her karaoke tapes round town before meeting the songwriter Norro Wilson, who passed her demo to the producer David Malloy. Malloy liked her and signed her to BNA Records in 1995.

Her first album was released at a time when music generally and country in particular was changing. For the first time in America, hip-hop rather than country was the best seller and country had responded with more mainstream stars such as Shania Twain.

McCready slotted well into this scene, releasing her first album Ten Thousand Angels in 1996. The first single, Guys Do It All the Time, with its dig at male chauvinism, endeared her to female fans and it made Number One in the States. The album sold two million and there were other hits including Perhaps He'll Notice Her Now and A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do.

It looked McCready's career was going to work out. A second album, If I Don't Stay the Night, appeared in 1997 and got to Number 4, but her third, I'm Not So Tough in 1999, flopped and she was dropped by her record label. She moved to Capital Records but an album she recorded there also failed to match her early success.

It was then that McCready's personal life began to go wrong, with periods in rehab, arrests, attempted suicides and difficult, colourful relationships with men. She began dating the country singer Billy McKnight in 2003 but two years later he was charged with her attempted murder. After McCready changed her story, they got back together and their son, Zander, was born in 2006.

Several years later, she was involved in a custody battle over Zander after McCready took him from her mother and the boy's legal guardian, Gayle Inge. McCready fled to Arkansas without permission over what she called child abuse fears. The authorities eventually found her hiding in a residence without permission and took the boy into custody. The following year, McCready had another son, Zayne, with her boyfriend David Wilson.

In May 2010, McCready was hospitalised briefly after police responded to an overdose call at a home in Florida, owned by her mother. This followed a stint on Celebrity Rehab With Dr Drew, where she declared herself clean from drugs.

In 2004, she was charged with obtaining the painkiller OxyContin fraudulently at a pharmacy. She pleaded guilty and was placed on three years' probation.

She violated the probation with a drunken driving arrest in May 2005. Then she attempted suicide in July 2005, overdosed in September 2005 and slit her wrists again in December 2008.

Also that year, McCready was charged in Arizona with hindering prosecution and unlawful use of transportation. Those charges stemmed from an alleged attempt in June 2005 to buy two high performance boats, but she claimed she was trying to stop a con man.

McCready did attempt a musical comeback in 2010 with a new album I'm Still Here but it failed to sell. She is survived by her two sons.

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