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A songwriter with stories to tell

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Canjelae (Photograph Brandon M Scott)

“I can make you famous.” Canjelae Taylor believes the words will be familiar to any women who has tried to make it in the music industry.

The Bermudian singer-songwriter started penning tunes in Los Angeles two years ago.

She’s since worked with Timbaland, Akon and Nico, among others.

Her journey started after she bucked expectations, leaving school and rejecting a record deal to shadow fellow songwriters instead.

“I didn’t have a full plan back then, I just knew what I didn’t want,” she said.

“I understand that my voice is sultry by nature, but I don’t think any girl should be made to enter into any part of womanhood that she’s not ready for — hugs lingering a little too long; you have to really stand your ground. Like any power play, people like to make you feel like you need them or you can’t do it without them and it’s beautiful that we’ve come to a time where young women are realising that they can do it on their own.”

She started her own label this year after years of urging from her collaborators. Southouse Entertainment is named after the Paget home where she grew up.

“I wanted to honour that because it’s where the songwriting began,” she said.

At school she did well at many things. It took her a while to land on music. When she did, her parents were very supportive — even when she left Berklee College of Music after three semesters.

“The entertainment industry is so misogynistic. You see a 60-year-old rock star praised but somehow the extent of a woman’s career is attached to when she can’t have children anymore,” she said.

“A couple of generations back you had superstars like Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle — they thrived in their 30s. They had amazing careers and weren’t considered old.

“Superstars have gotten younger and younger. You have these 17, 18, 25-year-olds — my generation singing to the whole world. That’s great, but what about when singers had actually lived life a bit? We had music that more people resonated with.”

She shadowed the writing team at Ne-Yo’s studio — her first taste of songwriting in the industry. Her melodies and vocals are featured on Quincy Brown’s single . Canjelae wrote it with her production partner Reo Cragun.

“I’m no Whitney Houston, but I still have stories to tell,” she laughed.

Her solo EP, , will be out early next year. She got there with help from Mr Cragun, her producer, Tim ‘Bos’ Boski and her management duo, MC Mediaworks.

“Tides are a result of gravitational pull. As girls, coming from a culture that has respect and legacy, oftentimes you’re pulled by so many other people’s expectations.

“You’re pulled up and down and sideways until you find your centre.” She described the sound as moody pop R&B, “with some emotional ballads here and there”.

The visuals were shot here and in Los Angeles.

“There’s the pink sand, the pastel buildings and all of that is beautiful but that’s not the Bermuda that I love.

“I love the rainy, stormy nights and Tom Moore’s jungle and the hidden gems you discover. , Mark Twain … that’s the Bermuda that I really wanted to thread throughout the visuals and the music.”

She said the black Bermuda experience is different from that of our American counterparts.

“It’s been cool hunting down old stories and folklore. There’s a certain regalness that people of colour had here. They may not have had money, but they always had prestige, carrying the knowledge of who they were.

“This idea of black excellence that we were blessed to have before other cultures celebrated it.

“Everyone’s version of Bermuda is a little different but I’m not responsible for their Bermuda, I’m responsible for mine.”

Canjelae during a Spotify interview and Studio Session with Production partner Tim “Bos”  (Photograph supplied)
Canjelae (Photograph by Yohan C)