Sunny Sweeney performs during opening ceremonies of Iowa Games

Sunny Sweeney performs at the 2012 Iowa Games opening ceremonies. The Iowa Games Opening Ceremony was Friday, July 13, in the parking lots east of Jack Trice Stadium.

Frances Myers

With her head held high and her shoulders drawn back, the woman standing outside the bus seemed like a far cry from the woman portrayed in her hit song “From a Table Away.”

With other hit songs such as “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving” and “Drink Myself Single” and her developing career, Sunny Sweeney has a reason to stand proud. Eight years ago she was a young woman just setting out and finding her way into country music.

“I think it chose me. It just started working so I just kept doing it,” Sweeney said in an interview with the Daily. “I just started playing in bars in Austin, [Texas,] pretty much. We played for beer and cheeseburgers. I just played in local bars and such, and it just kinda expanded.”

Sweeney had originally gone to New York to try her hand at improv comedy but quickly learned that was not the career path she wanted.

“I don’t really like bringing that up because it’s irrelevant to what I’m doing now,” Sweeney said with a laugh. “I did that in my past life. But music just started for me about eight years ago.”

Hailing from East Texas, Sweeney got some of her inspiration listening to “old country” such as country legends Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard. Other sources of inspiration for writing her songs stems from stuff in her life.

“Like if something happens I’ll write that or if somebody tells me a story about something — you get it from all different places really,” Sweeney said. “I grew up in East Texas and we had country music there but it was my first marriage that inspired a lot of my songs.”

Sweeney said if a career in country music had not panned out for her, she most likely would be waiting tables right now, but giving up has never crossed her mind.

“If anything bad happens, I usually get pissed and then it inspires me to do more,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney has toured with country favorites such as Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert and will be doing some shows with Blake in the next month.

This weekend will mark Sweeney’s 30th performance at the esteemed Grand Ole Opry.

“I don’t remember much [about my first performance at the Opry] because I was so freaked out,” Sweeney said. “It’s still really nerve wracking to do it, mostly because what it stands for and all the people who have played there before. But it’s cool. It’s probably my favorite place to play. The Opry band is great to play with. Tomorrow night Randy Travis is going to be there so I’m super excited about that.”

Friday, July 13, she played a free show at the Iowa Games in the parking lot of Jack Trice Stadium.

Sweeney has traveled to Iowa approximately five to seven times, she said.

“Des Moines is actually the first place I ever heard my song [‘From a Table Away’] on the radio. It was crazy, really overwhelming. I called my mom and started crying, like ‘Oh my god!’”

Sweeney said she is very content to keep writing songs.

“We’re working on a new record right now,” Sweeney said. “I’d love to still just play music and write songs. I love writing songs and just keeping busy in this industry. There’s so many aspects so it’s pretty easy to stay busy if you want to.”