Mindy McCready's striking appearance and musical delivery has caught the attention of many young country music fans, particularly young women who see her as someone to emulate. Part of a new breed of country music performers, she is unafraid to address issues through her music that had previously been avoided. Her fresh, direct, open style and relative youth allow her to empathize with young people beginning romantic relationships. McCready released albums in 1996 and 1997 and seems poised to become one of country music's next superstars.
The singer was born Malinda Gayle McCready in Ft. Myers, Florida on November 30, 1975 to parents Tim and Gayle. She has two younger brothers, Tim Jr. and Josh, and a half-brother, Kolton Skyler. Her first public performance was at the tender age of three when she performed a solo in church, following the examples set by her mother and grandfather, who sang in the choir. At ten she reluctantly began vocal lessons but ultimately found the experience very helpful as she increased her vocal range and learned proper breathing techniques.
McCready's strongest influence during her adolescence, outside of her immediate family, was singer Amy Grant. She emulated Grant and paid careful attention to her videos and music. McCready's voice teacher suggested she also study the singing style of gospel singer Sandi Patty. The young vocalist was also influenced by Twilla Paris, the group Alabama, and the song "Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys. A highly motivated young woman, McCready took extra classes while in high school so that she could graduate at age 16.
Although McCready's mother had hopes of her daughter going to law school, the younger McCready had other ideas for herself. At age 18, McCready packed up, gathered her arsenal of karioke tapes, and headed north to Nashville, Tennessee. She and her mother had a deal: she would have one calendar year to pursue and establish a career in music; after that, if she was not successful, she would go to college.
McCready readily admits that she knew little about getting into the music business. She remembers how people laughed at her because of it. Shortly after arriving in Nashville, she met producer Norro Wilson. Taking a liking to McCready, Wilson decided to help the naive singer. He listened to her karioke tapes and soon introduced McCready to another producer, David Malloy. Both men felt McCready was a natural talent. Malloy spoke about his initial reaction to McCready's voice in an online interview for www.flash.net: "She has such a purity of voice, such a charismatic tone to her vocalsnd on top of that she has this great open, uninhibited personality." Malloy and McCready subsequently worked together helping McCready develop and perfect her own style, and to produce a suitable demo tape to present to record companies. As the deadline imposed by her mother neared, the demo was finished and evaluated by record executive Thorn Schyler of RLG, a subsidiary of BMG.
Addressed Real Life Issues
Schyler subsequently scheduled a live audition for McCready with Joe Galante, head of RLG. After 51 weeks in Nashville, McCready had her record contract in sight. By 1994 she was signed with RLG's sister label BNA. Two years later, McCready's debut album, Ten Thousand Angels was released and went on to gain platinum status. Produced by Norro Wilson and David Malloy, the album introduces McCready's slick and sassy style of vocals. The album's songs directly tackle some tough real-life issues that men and women are often faced with, but may be reluctant to talk about. A reviewer from Entertainment Weekly described McCready's style aptly: "[she] serve[s] up a thoughtful program of postfeminist attitudes toward gender equality, love, and, lust. That, combined with a fetching voice and winning melodies, makes McCready a welcomend unusualashville newcomer."
The cut "Guys Do It All The Time" may cause some men distress as McCready addresses the double-standard is sometimes found in relationships between men and women. In this cut, a favorite of her female audience, McCready pulls a role reversal on the guys who stay out all night partying with their friends, neglecting other responsibilities. Both "Guys Do It All The Time" and title cut "Ten Thousand Angels" were released as singles and were number one country hits. In 1997, McCready released a second album, If I Don't Stay The Night. An enhanced CD, it contains multimedia computer files as well as audio recordings.
Rejected "Bimbo " Image
McCready talked about the inspiration for much of the material on If I Don't Stay The Night in an online interview at www.country.com. She said that much of the album content was inspired by conversations with her younger brothers, Tim and Josh. Both brothers live with her in Nashville, and she knows that she is a role model for them, as well as for thousands of fans. This includes young women who write the singer for advice on relationships and who express their desire to look like her. After realizing that some people had initially pegged her as a "bimbo," McCready took pains to change that image. In an online interview at www.country.com she remarked that the photos used on her first album, Ten Thousand Angels, were "fake-looking glamour" poses. She feels it is bad to project an image like this to young impressionable girls who regret that they will never look this way. She said anyone, given "$50,000 worth of photography" could look glamourous. To this end, McCready has scaled down her own use of cosmetics and dresses simply, buying clothes that can be found at local malls. For the photos on If I Don't Stay The Night, McCready intentionally went for a more natural look.
Took a New Approach
McCready reaches her young fans in part because she is so near them in age. Just barely out of her teens herself, she has been able to empathize with their concerns. Her refreshingly honest and direct approach to subjects that are rather new to country music has endeared her to many young listeners. The primary theme throughout If I Don't Stay The Night is a spin on the issues of sex and romance, because it comes from a young woman's perspective.
McCready won the Country Music Radio Award for Best New Artist in 1997. By this time, she had done considerable touring across the United States and Canada, opening for acts including George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Tim McGraw. She performed at the 1997 Jamboree In The Hills, which is known by country music fans as the "Super Bowl of Country Music." The annual country music festival is held outdoors in St. Clairsville, Ohio; it lasts four days and attracts some 90,000 fans each year. McCready appeared and performed on television for the 32nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards and on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She has also performed with other artists on recordings including Country Cares For Kids: A Holiday Album, which directed its proceeds to the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
Unfortunately, McCready was sidelined in late 1997 with tonsillitis. The condition required surgery and rest for her voice, but the singer hoped to return to work by the middle of 1998. Also planned for 1998 was McCready's marriage to actor Dean Cain, who is best known as Superman on the television series Lois and Clark.
Ten Thousand Angels, (includes "Ten Thousand Angels" and "Guys Do It All The Time"), BNA, 1996.
If I Don't Stay The Night, BNA, 1997.
(With others) Various Artists: Going West Across America, RCA Records, 1997.
(With others) Country Cares For Kids: A Holiday Album, BMG/BNA Entertainment, 1997.
Country Weekly, May 14, 1996, p. 24.
Entertainment Weekly, May 3, 1996, p. 79.
Nashville Record Review, June 1-2, 1996.
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