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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (The Tennessean) -- Beleaguered country singer Mindy McCready has died at age 37 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Cleburne County, Ark., Sheriff's Office said.

McCready's body was found in Heber Springs, Ark., after the Cleburne County Sheriff's Office was sent to her home to a report of gunshots fired. A statement posted on the sheriff's office's website said, "Officers arrived on the scene at 3:58 p.m. discovered the body of 37 year old Melinda Gayle McCready on the front porch of the residence. ... Ms. McCready was pronounced dead at the scene from what appears to be a single self-inflicted gunshot wound."

An autopsy and investigation will be conducted.

McCready scored top 10 hits in the 1990s including "Ten Thousand Angels," ''A Girl's Gotta Do (What A Girl's Gotta Do) and No. 1 single "Guys Do It All The Time." But her promising career was derailed by personal turmoil, and she spent the new century in a tortured, downward spiral.

After numerous public meltdowns and battles with domestic abuse, drug and alcohol arrests and suicide attempts, McCready began appearing on the television reality series "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" in 2010, the same year she was admitted to a St. Petersburg, Fla., hospital after a drug overdose.

In 2011, she fled with 6-year-old son, Zander, who was later found in Arkansas and returned to Florida where McCready's mother lives. In 2012, McCready and boyfriend David Wilson welcomed a son, Zayne. But Wilson died in January, of causes that have not yet released. McCready's death leaves Zayne, not yet 1 years old, without either of his parents.

Gifted singer

McCready was a preternatural talent who graduated high school at age 16 and sought a full-time music career. In 1994, before she'd turned 20, she brought karaoke tapes of herself to Nashville, Tenn., and soon caught the ear of famed producer Norro Wilson. Within a year of landing in Nashville, McCready signed with the BNA label, which sold more than 2 million copies of her 1996 debut album, "Ten Thousand Angels." Her upbeat, cheeky brand of country found radio favor, but she was unable to sustain career momentum.

Follow-up album "If I Don't Stay The Night" was certified "gold" for sales of more than 500,000 copies, but 1999's "I'm Not So Tough" was a commercial disappointment that yielded no major hits. Her final top 20 single was "You'll Never Know," in 1998.

After three albums, and much drama, McCready departed BNA. She signed with Capitol Records in 2000, but that relationship only lasted for an album. By the turn of the century, she was frequent tabloid fodder, and her celebrity relationships with athletes and actors drew headlines that had nothing to do with her innate musical gifts.

Those gifts, however, were substantial. McCready once seemed destined for country music stardom, possessing the singing chops and the charisma needed to be a star.

"When I was in (country group) Lonestar, she was our label mate and we were friends," wrote Nashville singer-songwriter John Rich on Twitter on Sunday evening. "A tragic end to a talented life."

Chely Wright, another singer-songwriter who burst to popularity in the 1990s, wrote, "Really, really sad to learn the news about Mindy McCready. I will pray for her children and I hope that people are gentle with her memory."

Boyfriend died in January

In recent times, McCready recorded new music and sought a commercial comeback. In a January interview with Andrea Canning of NBC's "Dateline" show after her boyfriend's death, she called Wilson her "soulmate."

"I've never gone through anything this painful," she said.

Canning noted that authorities had not ruled out murder as the cause of Wilson's death, and she asked, "Did you kill David? Did you shoot David?"

McCready responded, "Oh my God, no. He was my life. We were each other's life."

Asked whether it was possible Wilson could have been murdered, McCready said that she did not know.

Authorities removed McCready's two children from her Heber Springs home after Wilson's death, and a judge initially ordered her to enter a treatment facility before releasing her to undergo outpatient treatment.

"On a cold dark cloud, with nowhere to fall but down, like a single, naked, unrelenting tear. ... I'm still here," McCready posted on social media in late January.

Sunday night, word of Ms. McCready's suicide was received less with shock than with sorrowful resignation.

Country artist Terri Clark posted on Twitter: "Let's respect her memory and wish her soul peace."

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