The child star turned singer and mother of two says, "This year has been huge!"

By Jennifer Garcia
Updated November 25, 2014 07:00 AM
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She opened up about her sobriety, gave birth to her second child – and now she’s releasing her first solo album in six years, Who We Are.

“This year has been huge!” Alisan Porter, 33, tells PEOPLE. “Having my daughter Aria felt full circle for my family. Coming out about sobriety felt full circle for me and this album felt like that thing I always needed to do but never quite got to!”

Porter, who stopped acting years ago, started making music as a teenager and released a solo album six years ago and another album with her then-band The Canyons.

But the time really needed to be right for her to jump back into the music world. “I needed a break to get to this point to really figure out who I was musically,” she explains. “I spent some time in Nashville writing, met the right people and with some coaxing from one of my best friends and co-producer, Drew McKeon, I knew it was time to go for it.”

The album, which she describes as California folk, “is not mainstream,” she says. “I didn’t write it to get famous. It’s even a little less vocally acrobatic than usual for me and really features the musicians and singers that I was lucky enough to have play and perform on it.”

When she’s not hard at work in the studio, Porter is juggling being a mother of two to son Mason, 2½, and daughter Aria, 6 months. She also keeps busy with a blog she started with a friend in 2012 called The Lil’ Mamas, which she describes as a no-judgement zone that allows moms to talk about what they would otherwise be afraid to discuss.

“Juggling things comes naturally to me,” says the singer. “Motherhood always comes first, but I knew I wasn’t going to be a good mother if I didn’t continue to do what I love! Music is a part of me and I had to express myself, especially now that I’m a mom. That inspired a lot of the album. My own growing up and watching my children do the same.”

While the former child star isn’t ruling out jumping back into acting, “It would have to be for the right part,” she says. Music is where her heart is. “It’s in my bones, it’s a part of me,” she explains. “I can’t escape it and never want to. So I’ll stick to singing for now!”

“I’m just thankful that I finally made the kind of music that moved me to be a musician in the first place.”

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