Born in Fort Myers, Florida, on November 30, 1975, Mindy McCready has always been attracted to music. She sang in church beginning at age 3. As she grew, she ordered karaoke tapes of Madonna, Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire and honed her vocal skills while singing along. She cites musical influences as diverse as Madonna, gospel singer Sandi Patti, Crystal Gayle, Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Reba, and classical opera. At age 9, Mindy embarked on seven years of formal opera training. Motivated by a desire to pursue a professional musical career, she graduated high school (with honors) at 16 and at 18, she moved to Nashville to pursue her dream.
Mindy may have started out as a golden girl with an angelic voice, but since the release of her debut album, Ten Thousand Angels, she's become something even more--a voice for young women striving to reach their goals. But Mindy's brand of determination has given her almost rebel status in the music business--she wants to do things her own way. "Nashville is guilty of doing something I think is so bad for our industry, which is cloning," she says. "One artist has a hit, and then the record companies will put out ten copies of that hit. I think the way to keep country music strong is to continue to experiment and try out new sounds and looks--let individuals be individuals." Mindy has been compared to the legendary Tammy Wynette in both looks and sound. Yet this independent woman is the first to admit that "Stand By Your Man," as she says, "is not the Mindy McCready way. No way. If he's not a good guy, I'm not standing by him!" she declares. "But I do love Tammy with all my heart."
If she had a chance to duet with any artist, who would it be? "I couldn't think of anybody I would rather do a duet with other than Elvis Presley," she sighs. "My favorite Elvis song is 'Are You Lonesome Tonight,' so that would probably be the one. I've never recorded it, but maybe someday I might." Although she studied opera for years, Mindy listened to everything. "I liked Madonna and Michael Jackson, and I was the karaoke queen of my hometown," says the Fort Myers, Florida native. "It was that Garth Brooks-Trisha Yearwood time, and Trisha had just sung 'She's in Love With the Boy.' I fell in love with it; it's so much about what I was doing and how I was growing up. So when I decided to pursue singing professionally, I wanted to sing country."
In 1995, Mindy landed a contract within the one-year deadline imposed by her mother, who wanted her to go to law school. "I was in the studio every day-by the grace of God, I was hired a lot to sing demos, so tapes of me were all over town. My producer, David Malloy, said, 'There is no one in town that can get you a record deal in a year.' Then I sang a demo of 'Tell Me Something I Don't Know,' and David said, 'I can get you a record deal with this. Immediately!' Before that, I really truly thought I was going to have to go home." After RCA chairman Joe Galante heard the tape, Mindy went to his office and sang three songs for him. "I got the deal 51 weeks to the day," she recalls.
Mindy's first album, Ten Thousand Angels, was produced by Malloy and released in 1996. The double platinum seller spawned the hit singles, "Guys Do It All The Time," "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now," "A Girl's Gotta Do (What A Girl's Gotta Do)" and the title track. The success of the CD led to extensive concert appearances with George Strait, Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson. (Ironically, prior to that, Mindy had never appeared on stage).
Mindy's biggest praise goes to the man she credits with helping her at a turning point in her career--country music hero George Strait, with whom she toured with for the first time. "I didn't want to tour unless it was with the right person. I wasn't ready. I had never performed live, other than in church and karaoke. Then George Strait asked if I would tour with him, and I said 'absolutely.'" "George is a legend and I thought he would be the absolute best person for me to go out on tour with. I couldn't miss it. So the very first time I performed live was Valentine's Day in front of 25,000 people, opening for George at the Kiel Center in St. Louis, Missouri," declares Mindy.
McCready's fans regard her hugely popular song, "Guy's Do It All the Time," as a women's anthem. Even Mindy's navel ring made wavelets in Nashville to the point that some label executives suggested hiding it in publicity photos. Mindy responded with a polite, "Hell, no! That's a part of me." Her second album, If I Don't Stay The Night is a continuation of the bold, pro-woman stance she took with her debut, Ten Thousand Angels. It came out in 1997 and featured the successful U.S. single, "You'll Never Know," and "Oh Romeo," a hit in Europe. "I don't choose a song unless it's personal to me," the outspoken McCready comments. "It has to move me in order to record it."
Mindy specifically searches for songs that women can identify with. "I'm very attracted to strong female lyrics," Mindy says. "All my songs are tunes that women will want to listen to and say, 'Yes, sister!' They're not traditionally country, in the sense that they have images of dogs in trucks or submissive women. If the women aren't equal to the men, the songs aren't there for me." Mindy's vision remains focused on her music. "I love music and that's what motivates me," she says. "When I'm performing and the audience is singing every word to my songs, or when I get a letter saying that my song made someone feel good, that's what excites me. My goal is to be a singer, not a country music singer, just a singer. That's what it's about for me."
Mindy's third CD, I'm Not So Tough, (BNA) is filled with tunes that affect the artist in a deep, individual way and help her convey her vision of women as equal, direct and strong. Produced by Billy Joe Walker Jr. and Csaba Petocz, the CD was released in September of 1999. "All I Want Is Everything," the first single, is a jangly, Buddy Holly-style tune with a defiant lyric written by acclaimed songwriter Matraca Berg ("Strawberry Wine"). "When I first heard it, the lyric reflected so much of my personality," Mindy says. " 'All I Want Is Everything' is something I've actually said before. I grabbed the song." Her faith in her fans, her family and her God, she says, sustains her through hard times. "I grew up in church, I went to a Pentecostal church, Assembly of God. Religion has been in my family my whole life. I love the Lord and I pray before every show." What you see is what you get with Mindy.