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Mindy McCready, a Singer Long Troubled, Dies at 37

Her life was one of those aching odysseys sermonized redundantly across the musical landscape in which she performed. The rocket rise to stardom. The volcanic men. The depression. The drugs and booze. The brushes with the law. The heartache. The suicide attempts.
John Bazemore/Associated Press
Mindy McCready in 1998.
    Such were the tangled threads of the country music singer Mindy McCready, who could never seem to outrun life’s ill winds.
    In an interview with The Associated Press three years ago, she summarized her stormy world as “a giant whirlwind of chaos all the time,” adding, “My entire life things have been attracted to me and vice versa that turn into chaotic nightmares or I create the chaos myself.”
    On Sunday afternoon, the 37-year-old singer was found dead on the front porch of her house in Heber Springs, Ark., of what the police said appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
    Her death followed the most recent implosion of her personal life. Just last month, David Wilson, a music producer who was her boyfriend, was also found dead at their home from a gunshot wound. His death is still being investigated by the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office. Ms. McCready had denied any involvement in it.
    Earlier this month, her two young sons were removed by local authorities.
    Long before the tumult and tragedy kicked in, she likened her narrative to a Cinderella story.
    She was born Malinda Gayle McCready on Nov. 30, 1975, in Fort Myers, Fla. She began singing at her local church when she was 3, and took training for opera before gravitating to country music. As a teenager she would sing karaoke, favoring hits from the likes of Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire.

    In 1994, she headed to Nashville, equipped with her karaoke tapes and a large reservoir of hope, and was soon signed to a recording contract. Within two years, she had her only No. 1 hit, a male chauvinism critique, “Guys Do It All the Time.” She said her kind of song was one where the women were equal to the men.
    Her first album, “Ten Thousand Angels,” sold over two million copies. Soon she was singing at concerts alongside some of country’s megastars.
    But dark clouds intervened and trailed her everywhere. In time, her record sales began to diminish as her personal struggles intensified.
    She fought depression, and abused drugs and alcohol. In 2004, she was charged with fraudulently obtaining painkillers. In 2005, she was charged with drunken driving.
    Her romantic life featured its own turmoil. In 2005, Billy McKnight, a fellow country singer with whom she would have a son, was charged with attempted murder after the police said he choked and beat her.
    She served brief jail sentences in 2007 and 2008 for probation violations.
    One more controversial episode was inserted in her résumé in 2008, when Roger Clemens came under investigation for using performance-enhancing drugs, and The Daily News reported that she had a romantic involvement with the pitcher starting when she was a teenager. He denied that they were anything more than friends.
    Hounded by her demons, she tried to kill herself at least three times between 2005 and 2010.
    In 2009, like some other troubled stars willing to allow the public to watch them repair themselves, she signed up to appear on the reality series “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.” On one episode, she suffered a seizure.
    In the last few years, four other cast members from that series have also died.
    In the aftermath of her appearance, she spoke of reigniting her career. She mentioned writing a book and creating a reality show with her brothers. Her fifth and final album was released in 2010, titled, “I’m Still Here.”
    But soon she found herself embroiled in a custody battle with her mother and Mr. McKnight over her eldest son. She settled down with Mr. Wilson in the rural town of Heber Springs, and had a son with him last year.
    After Mr. Wilson’s death, according to published reports, her father became troubled by her behavior and her drinking. A judge ordered her to undergo evaluation and treatment. Her sons were removed from her care.
    She was found on Sunday next to Mr. Wilson’s dog, a Dogo Argentino, that authorities believe she shot before killing herself.
    In addition to her children, Zander, 6, and Zayne, 10 months, she is survived by her mother, Gayle Inge; her father, Tim McCready; two brothers, Josh McCready and Tim Jr.; a half-brother, Sky Phelan; and her stepfather, Michael Inge.
    On Monday, radio stations were playing her hits, and other country stars were expressing their profound sadness.

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