(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Sunny disposition? Um, sort of. But Sunny Sweeney’s name is a little misleading. She’s a happy girl on the inside, for sure. But on the outside? She seems more like a love child of Gretchen Wilson and Waylon Jennings. For starters, she plays the hell out of an acoustic guitar that she hand-bedazzled with gems, wood glue, a toothpick and a whole lot of patience. It wears the autographs of Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Jessi Colter, Hank Williams Jr. and Little Jimmy Dickens. And then she uses her sassy Texas twang to belt out songs about begging for paychecks, staggering in the house and how freedom feels a lot like treason. Then there are these big black streaks in her bright blond hair, which everyone tried to talk her out of but she loves them anyway. And then, the seven tattoos all over Sweeney’s body paint a picture of who she is and where she’s been. She showed (most of) them to me just before her recent show in Chicago when the “Mama Tried” ink on her inner wrist caught my eye. In addition to that inked Haggard tribute, she has a dove and olive branch, a star, a leaf that symbolizes turning over that says “believe,” a Chinese symbol for entertainer, a cross on her foot (which was her very first tattoo) and the word “patience” on her other foot. It’s in her mother’s handwriting from inside a Bible that has been in their family for generations. When Sweeney found that, she says she took it to Kinko’s right away, made a copy and then made it permanent. And that’s kind of the dichotomy I love about Sweeney. Tough enough to have seven tattoos, but sweet enough to include her mama and the Bible.