Blindly Following Suit: An Interview with Portes


When singer-songwriter Teressa Portes was creating her latest EP, National Anthems, she knew that the topics addressed could be controversial. She also knew that these topics were too important not to make it on the album.

Portes is using her music to bring forth a message of political distress, which has been on the minds of everyone lately. She has been a songwriter since high school but has found the courage to speak out as an activist largely from her 9-year-old son.

It just so happens that her son is equally as creative as her. From the moment she started fostering him two years ago, he awoke every morning and went to bed every night singing. When she adopted him, he fell in love with her same passions - music, dancing, ballet, lacrosse.

They share much more than their passions, however. She was adopted from Guatemala and had an affluent upbringing. It became one of the reasons why she wanted to adopt a child of her own one day.

“I want to give him the life that I had because I was so blessed,” she said. “I really wanted to foster and adopt someone to give that love and share that experience that I had been able to growing up in a really loving, kind, well-adjusted family and provide that for him.”

It wasn’t until recently that she realized she had crossed over her activism into her music. It started with her children’s album, Hippity Hop Pop, that shares songs on being yourself and liking the way that you are.

“I think I had some consciousness with that album that I carried over to my last single, ‘Human’, which is about global warming and climate change and my son sings on that song,” she said. “I was just feeling this mounting frustration and thinking about how can I, as an artist and having this creative voice, extend that to other people and say ‘are you feeling the same way as I am? And if so, here's a song about that.’”

The same goes for her second single, “In Lockstep”. She was thinking of all the politicians blindly following suit, no matter how wrong it may be. She took a liking to the phrase “in lockstep” and built the song around it. She hopes that the song is the start to a conversation - whether the listener is politically aligned with her views or not.

There was a slight hesitation to release the album, however. In creating music that questions today’s politics, are there consequences for her as an artist or as a human being? It was a conversation she had with an entertainment lawyer because she not only has to think about her safety but her child’s.

“After that conversation just being really mindful and thoughtful, the response was I was protected by the First Amendment,” she said. “This is my creative expression. I have a right to do this. There's nothing wrong with the lyrics, there's nothing wrong with the music in it of itself, so I felt assured that I could move forward with this creative project.”

It is a scary time to live in, but the boldness of Portes and her fellow artists help make the world a little brighter. National Anthems couldn’t have been released at a more perfect time, with a more perfect message.