BLOSSOM Blossom (center) with backup singers Janae Ball (left) and Erika Nathanielsz-Bowden (right). Lisa Pardo

If you’ve been paying attention to Portland’s music scene, there’s no way you haven’t heard her name. For the last couple of years, Blossom—AKA Keisha Chiddick—has lit up countless stages, converting casual onlookers into fans with her lovable personality and soulful voice. This month the singer finally released her full-length debut, Tease, with producer Hot16 (Dan Kinto).

“The actual process of writing the songs and picking the beats was super fast,” Chiddick says. “And it was more us finding time to get together, because we all worked full-time in addition to doing music.”

As hard as she grinds, finding time for her relationships is crucial for Chiddick’s success. “It was at the point where I started doing a lot of shows, so it’s like: I work, then go do my shows, and when am I gonna have time to go to the studio? And still be a human? ’Cause I really cherish my time with my friends as well. Those are important to me.”

This loyal support system includes Janessa Narciso (of DUG), roommate and designer Brittanee Wright, and backup singers Janae Ball and Erika Nathanielsz-Bowden (who’ve been singing with Blossom since “forever”). At her shows, it’s easy to spot the babe squad showing the singer genuine love from the front row.

Tease dropped last week, but I’ve been listening for months and watching her perform tracks like “So Cool,” “Your Heart,” and “Loves Coming [Atcha]” (my personal favorite) for even longer. So I was curious to hear which Tease song is Chiddick’s favorite to perform.

“I think ‘Loves Coming Atcha,’ because I get the best energy from the crowd from that song,” she says. “I have a lot of pretty chill songs, at least on the interweb. If you’ve never come to any of my shows, online I’m very somber. And ‘Loves Coming Atcha’ is a test of upbeat, and something groovy.”

Groovy is the perfect word to describe it—every time I hear that funky-retro production, it sends a shiver of delight down my spine and forces me to groove. And I’m not alone; I watched a Soul Train line organically erupt during her performance of the song a couple of months ago.

Love was a common theme throughout Blossom’s previous releases, and Tease is no different. She says she named the project Tease for the simple reason that it leaves you wanting more. A sort of “musical blue balls,” if you will. But with these eight tracks, her personal and artistic growth is also evident. Highlights include the first, summery single “So Cool,” the breezy “Get Over It,” and “Siilent.” She says the superb single “U Got Me” is actually about self-love and solo intimacy, despite its lyrics.

“The song is like I’m singing to myself, and... to be loved, you need yourself,” she explains. “Love yourself. Enjoy yourself. I’m kinda trying to just say I’ve had to strip feeling insecure with being alone... I don’t know, I’m just loving testing what it means to be independent.”

Chiddick says it took her a while to embrace her identity as a singer and accept her path as a creator rather than an imitator. Not a wailer by any means, she sings in a medium range with slightly raspy tones that are easy on the ears and the vocal cords.

“That was one thing I learned was not my strength,” she says. “It’s funny, because my stepmom told me this when I was 10 or 12. She was like, ‘Stop singing songs like other people. Sing like you.’ At the time it really hurt my feelings, ’cause I’m like, ‘Oh, maybe she’s trying to tell me I don’t know how to sing.’ I didn’t understand what she was trying to say to me, but she was just like, ‘You have your own voice, sing like that.’”

With Tease released to an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the internet (with the singer’s “Superwoman” landing on Spotify’s “Feminist Friday” playlist), Chiddick says she’s now looking forward to shooting a music video in September, and traveling to Los Angeles and New York for work and play. And of course, she’s still playing a ton of shows over the next few weeks, which will no doubt continue to draw crowds. Oh, and she’s getting ready to be a foster parent in the near future—something she’s wanted to do since middle school.

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“I wanna be a musician, I wanna travel, I wanna do music, blah blah blah, but my foster kid can come too,” she says. “I’m a family-friendly gal, you know? And I have a support system filled with women, wonderful women who are gonna be mamas and aunties as well. So my whole friend [group is] signing up to be a foster parent whether they like it or not.”

Wherever Chiddick’s career takes her, she’s grateful for fans’ enduring support: “I like my singing voice, I like making music, I like writing music,” she says. “But I know that people like me because of my personality and the person that I am, and the friendships, and that’s why people continue to support me. It’s not just because I’m a great singer, and my voice has to be heard. It’s fun. You know what I mean? Like, who I am as a person and the respect I’m trying to give the people that I want to listen to my music is mutual.”

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