“Without Sight” is the third CD from singer-songwriter Vanessa Torres, and she’s celebrating with a release party Friday night at One Longfellow Square in Portland.

Torres’ message is a sincere one — “cultivating the place where poetry meets social justice” — and she delivers it through astute, fire-starting lyrics sung with a gorgeously rousing voice. GO posed a series of questions to Torres about “Without Sight,” and she was happy to oblige.

It says on your website that the CD-release show at One Longfellow Square will be “an eclectic, multi-genre event including spoken word and multi-media.” Can you elaborate on this?

Over the course of the evening, there will be performances by Meg Yates, a fellow singer-songwriter, as well as national poetry team slam champion Sean McGovern-Waite. I will also be sharing a slide show accompanying one of the new album tracks.

In addition to this, I will be joined by a fabulous cast of musicians on the album, including Mai Bloomfield on cello, Mitch Barron on upright and electric bass, Nate Spencer on mandolin, and Tamara Torres and Putnam Smith on harmony vocals. Finally, the original artwork that comprises the four panels of this album will be highlighted with a showing of the artist himself, Nick Rofe, and his beautiful work.

How have you evolved as a songwriter and musician since the release in 2008 of “Witness”?

I think my songwriting has deepened and opened in the past three years. While these new songs reflect the journey searching for my own footing and answers, I believe the album tackles broader, more universal themes of one’s search for grace and connection to spirit as we are held in the balance between darkness and light. The song “Antarctica” is emblematic of this search for truth and certainty as we struggle to understand our place in this world.

Is this “search” a recurring theme on “Without Sight?”

I think we as people are in constant search of this balance, and it is, in my mind, a spiritual quest. This quest is not just to find the right job or mate or location to live, but to feel intrinsically in alignment with our highest purpose. It is that inherent grace and connection that humbles and sustains us. This is what these songs are searching for.

What inspired the song “Nameless”?

This is one of the songs dearest to my heart on the album. It was inspired by the work that my partner LuzMarina Serrano does as part of the organization Maine Migrant Health Program. They are a nonprofit dedicated to providing health care and health education to the migrant and seasonal farm worker community across the state of Maine.

The song speaks to the millions of undocumented people living and working in this country who are criminalized and condemned for doing some of the hardest work in our economy. I wanted to write a song that gave a snapshot of these faces that are all around us, one that spoke to the silence that accompanies the fear of deportation and the language barriers that face so many of the undocumented people working here.

Why did you decide to cover the song “Cambia”?

I was raised on a healthy diet of Latin American folk music; my mother a Spanish professor, my dad a Spanish pilot. Being born in Caracas, Venezuela, I grew up hearing this song and loving it before I really knew what it meant, and I still think it is that quality that makes it such a powerful song. There is something powerful and aching in the song that transcends language.

“Cambia” is about change and both the beauty and the loss of being in an ever-changing world. It was made famous by the great Mercedes Sosa, a very well-loved and famous Argentinian folk singer who was a voice for so many people in Latin America speaking out against the many dictatorships in the ’70s and ’80s. It is perhaps one of the greatest songs ever written, and I am honored to be able to share it on this album. Also, it is the beginning of what I hope to be more songs in Spanish, though the next challenge will be to write one myself.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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