Canjelae Taylor may be rubbing shoulders with music industry giants, but she has not forgotten her roots.
She is making her way home for Cup Match, for a concert with emerging American R&B stars Jacquees and Donell Jones.
“I am so excited,” said the singer/songwriter who performs as Canjelae.
“I can’t say too much, but we will be playing on the weekend before Cup Match and it will be R&B old school meets the new kids on the block — us younger millennials along with the ’90s R&B we all grew up with.
“The week of Cup Match is purely soca and dancehall and no one is trying to listen to anything else, so it’s cool that we are leading up to the festivities.
“I told my managers I could stay at my mama’s house, but they are putting me up in a hotel!”
Her first single, Someone Else, has just been released by MC Media Works, the Atlanta-based company that also manages Jacquees and Donell Jones.
Canjelae’s career has taken off in the past five years. In 2014, she found herself in Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Studios recording with Grammy Award-winning producer, composer and rapper Timbaland, who has worked with Madonna, Aaliyah and the Queen Bey herself.
She was also featured on the soundtrack for The Intent 2, released in theatres last September.
Canjelae wrote her single Someone Else in about 20 minutes. She got help from her friend, Sia Amun, who has written for the likes of Lady Gaga, and Toronto songwriter Kareen James.
“We were all listing the things we wished that our significant others at the time would do for us,” she said.
“My producer, Tim Bos, was making the beat and we were all talking about relationships. I wasn’t in the best place in my relationship — I was frustrated — and I said, ‘Why can’t they appreciate us the way we are?’ That’s really what the song is about.
“Kareen did the first verse, I wrote the pre-chorus and chorus, and Sia came up with the third verse; it was so in sync with our conversation. The song is steeped in R&B and it’s moody.”
The single is the first part in a bigger album she aims to have completed by the end of the year.
“As far as what is coming up, there are hints of me being from Bermuda; there are hints of reggae and more worldly sounds, but it’s definitely rooted in R&B.”
Canjelae, who was raised in Paget and now lives between Atlanta and Los Angeles, has been singing since she was young, following the lead of her mother and grandmother before her.
Her first stage was at the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church and later the Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In 2007, she won the Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens International pageant. Past winners include Hollywood actress Jada Pinkett Smith and singer Vanessa Williams.
The following year, she came in the top three in the local Singing for Success contest when she was given the chance to sing Etta James’s classic At Last at New York’s Apollo Theatre.
She left Bermuda in 2012 to study entertainment business management and songwriting at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.
An opportunity arose in Atlanta at Jay-Z’s recording studio Blueprint. Following the advice of her teacher Armstead Christian, she took a gamble and moved to the Georgia capital before graduating.
“When I got there, I was introduced to the team and I learnt how to write as a fly on the wall. They said I had good melodies.
“From then, I went to Trey Songs and I worked with Timbaland, which was all amazing. It has been great.”
While her main focus is her upcoming album, she is also involved in a side project.
“I’m a big part of a cartoon coming out at the end of the year called Little Professor Skye. It is a mix between The Proud Family and The Magic School Bus.
“In the cartoon, the girl wants to be a scientist but she can also sing; she reminds me a lot of me. I am her favourite singer and I come alive in her posters. The character even looks like me.”
A deep knowledge and understanding of her industry has helped her get ahead, Canjelae said.
“You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you don’t have your business together, that can really cripple you. Know your industry even more than you know your craft.”
• Follow Canjelae on Twitter and Instagram: @canjelae