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Gutsy moves take her far

(ran GB edition)

Great vocal delivery aside, much of country newcomer Mindy McCready's success can be chalked up to the 20-year-old's sassiness.

McCready became a Heatseekers Impact artist this month when her BNA Records debut, Ten Thousand Angels, broke into the top half of the Billboard 200 at No. 86. Last week, Ten Thousand Angels moved up to No. 67 with a bullet on the Billboard 200 and No. 8 on Top Country Albums. The album, which was released April 30, has sold more than 113,000 units, according to SoundScan.

McCready's first gutsy move was to traipse into Nashville armed with only a karaoke tape as her demo and a self-imposed deadline of 12 months to land a recording contract. Then the Fort Myers native had the chutzpah to call Joe Galante, chairman of the RCA Label Group, 20 minutes after auditioning for him to say that she appreciated his offer of a deal but suggested they spend some time together first.

"I admired her attitude, at 19; to say, "Wait a minute, we need to date before we get married,' showed a lot," says Galante, who signed McCready to RLG's BNA label one week before her deadline was up.

"By growing up the oldest child and having to be responsible in a lot of ways, she grew up fast. She's sassy, but in the sense of being playful. She's beautiful and a great singer, and we got a bonus in terms of personality," Galante says.

McCready grew up singing gospel songs in church and country songs in karaoke bars and listening to Alabama, the Oak Ridge Boys, Sylvia, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.

After moving to Nashville at age 18 and passing out her karaoke versions of Bonnie Raitt's Something To Talk About and Trisha Yearwood's Down on my Knees on Music Row, McCready got her tape into the hands of songwriter/producer Norro Wilson, who produced her album along with comrade David Malloy.

Her first-week sales, more than 7,500 units, are the highest for a female country artist since Yearwood's self-titled debut album on MCA in 1991.