Helena Jesele / Big Machine Media
Helena Jesele's career could have easily gone another way.
"My life so far has been quite serendipitous," the singer-songwriter told CBSNews.com.
"People seem to come along at the right time to guide me. I often find myself at a crossroads and I have a choice of two ways to go career-wise -- and someone will come along and direct me in the right way."
Jesele was deciding between a seemingly more solid path leading her into the art world or a potentially risky entry into the music industry.
"I always wanted to be a singer from about five," Jesele said. "I grew up in a big Irish family and I kind of thought, 'Oh growing up in Catholic Ireland, it wasn't the thing to grow up and be a jazz singer. The nuns frowned upon it."
Her father, meanwhile, wanted her to pursue a career that would more likely result in a steady salary.
So, she studied art history with a focus on Italian Renaissance art because "I thought I ought to get a proper job." Soon, Jesele found herself in London with a good gig working at an art gallery.
At night, though, she "moonlighted as a jazz singer."
"In London, jazz is taken quite seriously," the 6-foot tall brunette stunner said. "I had to pay my dues."
While paying her dues, she found a mentor in a Bebop singer in London, and soon, Jesele's path became clear: "I went for it, and I thought if I'm going to do this, I might as well go all guns blazing."
That was about four years ago. Now Jesele, who was born in Manchester, England, but grew up in Dublin, is readying her debut album, due out in early 2013. It's been described as a mix of urban, jazz and soul fusion, she says.
She collaborated with producer Paul O'Duffy (Amy Winehouse) and production team Truth & Soul (Adele) on the set, which was recorded in London and Brooklyn, N.Y.
Having always sung covers, Jesele admits that it was daunting to come up with her own lyrics.
"I never thought I'd write my own stuff," said Jesele, who cites Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald as her musical influences.
"I worked with this producer, and he said, 'Why don't you write something?' I said, 'Don't be ridiculous. That's not what I do...But I would always go to the studio and tell him stories. He said, 'These are your songs.' But I didn't have the confidence to do it."
Still, she gave it a shot, and by the next day, Jesele had her first track.
It didn't hurt that she had some life experiences to act as her songwriting guide.
"Almost all of the songs tell a story of a particular two years of my life -- a big love affair -- from falling in love, to heartbreak and falling back in love and then disaster," Jesele said, later adding, "There's definitely a dark edge to the album."
But something was missing. After she got over that guy, Jesele yearned for a couple of new songs to reflect her latest mood.
"I wanted to end the album on a high because I had managed to get myself over this big devastating love affair," said Jesele, who wrote a couple of upbeat tracks for the set: "The Sun is Rising" and "Let the Game Begin." They ended up becoming the last two tracks written for the album.
"'The Sun is Rising' isn't about the sun in the sky but the sun within...It was re-balancing myself after so much tumultuous emotions for so long," Jesele said.
Needless to say, her father is "really proud."
"He's a businessman so he knows what a huge risk it was to give up my paycheck to do this," she said.