Sunny Sweeney

It's been three years since the last album from Sunny Sweeney, and the songstress hopes that her fans are looking forward to the August 5 release of her third disc, "Provoked," as much as she is. "I am about to bust, I'm so happy," she exclaims to Billboard. "I've been playing the new stuff at shows, and they seem to be really excited about it. They're saying 'This is you.' I've always been very open about things that have happened in my life, and I love writing about personal stuff because I'm not the only person that has gone through it. It's so awesome when fans will come up and say 'Thank you for writing that' and that they can relate to it. That's why I want to do this job — to have people feel something when they feel my music."

Sweeney — who hit the top 10 with "From a Table Away" — says she enjoyed the writing process for "Provoked," but also enjoyed searching for material. "I've just been writing and trying to get the best songs I can get. For me, it's always a challenge to try to top yourself. 'May the best song win' has always been my theory, so that's why there are two songs on there that I didn't write."

One of those songs is her current single, "Bad Girl Phase," which was co-written by Nashville sensation Brandy Clark. Sweeney was happy to get one of her songs on the disc. "She is on fire right now, and so talented. My producer, Luke Wooten, came in and said 'I need to play you this song. It sounds exactly like you.' He played it, and I said 'If that song is not available, it was a totally cruel joke for you to play it.' I was super-excited to put it on the record."

She joked with The 615 that she knows the lyrics very well, though stresses all is well in her life now — for good reason. "I went through it when I got divorced a couple of years ago. I think from talking to a bunch of people, there's that phase where you think 'Woo-Hoo.....Now what?' You don't have to check in with anyone. I never got too crazy or wild. I was like 'I'm never getting married or dating again. I'm going to be single for the rest of my life.' Then, lo and behold, comes my husband, who is the most amazing human being on the planet. I should have found him first. He's a police officer, and is super straitlaced and keeps me in line. He's my saving grace as far as relationships go, because I swore off of them before him. But everything turned out okay, and I'm better than I've been in a long time!"

On board early with the single is SiriusXM, as they were with recent hits by Florida Georgia Line and Cole Swindell. Sweeney says she appreciates the support. "John Marks has an ear for certain things that he can hear it — whatever the 'it' thing is. He was my first radio dinner that I ever went on, before he was there. I cherish that relationship. I feel lucky to have him and SiriusXM behind me."

A portion of the sales from "Provoked" will go to help benefit a cause very close to Sweeney's heart: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). "My first internship in college was through a guy named Chad Rainey, who I became really good friends with. He's paralyzed and in a wheelchair. He called me last year and said 'I don't know if you'll be able to do this or not, but I am doing a benefit show for CASA. He explained to me what it was, and I said I would do it. We went up there to do the gig, and a lot of the people there have worked there for years. They were telling me stories about kids they had placed in homes because of the proceeds they have gotten through the organization. It just really hit me hard. I grew up with four parents — mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad — all of whom were 100 percent there for me. So it really hit me hard that some kids don't even have a parent that can provide and give them a happy and healthy home. It struck me hard as something I really needed to get behind. So whenever we decided to do the pledge campaign to record the album, I thought 'Can we do part of it to benefit CASA?'" She says that helped her gain a lot of support for the record. "As it turns out, there's a lot of people who only donated because of it. It helps out a wonderful cause."