The Rise Of Tems: First female Grammy Award winner from Nigeria

The Rise Of Tems
  • The Rise Of Tems: First female Grammy Award winner from Nigeria

When the nominees for the 2023 Grammy were announced on November 15, 2022, many Nigerian music aficionados were happy that Nigerian superstar Temilade Openiyi, professionally known as Tems was on the list.

The 27-year-old Nigerian singer, however, made history on 5th February 2023, after becoming the first Nigerian female artist to win a Grammy. However, others argue that the first Nigerian female singer to achieve the feat was British-Nigerian singer Sade, whose real name is Helen Folasade Adu. She has won the award four times.

Tems won the Best Melodic Rap Performance category for her contribution to the hit song Wait for U with Future and Drake. She was nominated in a category which had music heavy weights like Latto (“Big Energy (Live)”, Jack Harlow (“First Class”), Kendrick Lamar (“Die Hard”), and DJ Khalid.

This even as Nigerian politicians have shown their concern for the country’s growing music industry by sending out their goodwill messages to our latest Grammy award-winning star, Tems. Among those who have recognised Tems international feat are Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All-Progressives Congress (APC). The former Lagos governor praised Tems and congratulated her on her successful contribution to the hit song Wait for You, which featured American rap stars Future and Drake. “I join other Nigerians in congratulating Temilade Openiyi aka Tems @temsbaby on winning the Grammy award in the Best Melodic Rap Performance category for her contribution to the hit song “Wait for U” – featuring Future and Drake.”

The President of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, saluted Nigerian Afro-soul singer Tems for her creative prowess that led to her Grammy victory.

Buhari praised Tems for “showcasing her talent to the world, with dedication and hard work, which, once again, has placed Nigeria in the spotlight for excellence,” according to a statement released by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.

The president applauded all Nigerian nominees for this year’s Grammy Awards, including Burna Boy, for pursuing their passions with zeal and continuously reinventing global entertainment with creativity.

He also appreciated the creative industry, particularly managers, producers, and directors, for encouraging talents like Tems, who have taken Nigeria’s culture and tourism to the global stage.

Former Senate President Bukola Saraki recognised the Afro-soul global star for her record-breaking achievement. In a tweet, the politician congratulated Tems for making history as the first female Nigerian Afrobeats artist to bag a Grammy award. “Congratulations to the trailblazing Tems @temsbaby for making history as the first female Nigerian artist to receive a Grammy Award!”

Excited by the win, top Nigerian stars took to their social media handles to congratulate Tems.

“It’s Tems’ time. Nobody can stop her shine. Superstar,” Afrobeats singer Olamide said.

Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele, shared Tems’ picture on her Instagram account and wrote, “Congratulations #temsbaby on winning the Best Melodic Rap Performance at the #2023grammyawards. You’re a pride to Nigeria, Africa, and women all over the world. Your originality made you stand out! This is an inspiration to the young women out there, keep pushing against all boundaries, keep working hard, stay original to your craft and with these, you can always get to the top!”

Tiwa Savage posted on her Instagram page, “You already know 4life”.

Yemi Alade via her Twitter handle wrote, “Congratulations #temsbaby.”

Actor Femi Adebayo shared her picture via his Instagram account and said, “Verified Congratulations to Temilade Openiyi #temsbaby being a Nigerian Female to win Grammys.

For Tems, her rise to the top can only be described as phenomenal, given that she started music professionally in 2018 after she quit her job to pursue a career in music. Just over four years later, she’s a Grammy winner with a list of collaborations with notable international stars.

She released her debut single, “Mr Rebel”, in 2018, a song which she produced herself, and in August 2019, she released the single “Try Me”, to rave reviews. Tems released her debut extended play, For Broken Ears, in September 2020. The project was produced primarily by her, and the single “Damages” from the EP became another follow-up hit to “Try Me”, peaking at number one on the Nigerian Apple Music chart and number six on the then-newly launched TurnTable Top 50 chart and garnering five million views on YouTube.

Impressive as her past projects were, it was her appearance on WizKid’s 2020 single Essence that helped propel her to global prominence, when the song reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, after the release of a remixed version with an additional feature from Justin Bieber, and earned her a Grammy nomination. The track was dubbed the song of the summer and introduced her to a global audience.

For the Grammy award-winning song “Wait For You”, in which American rap superstar Future tapped Canadian super Star Drake and Tems, Future noted that what makes a big part of  “Wait For You” such a special song is Tems’ sultry voice.

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Posting on his Twitter page In May 2022 Future said “Soon as I heard the @temsbaby sample over @atljacobbeatz Instantly connected to my soul,“@temsbaby VOICE IS AMAZING.”

He added, “Even tho wait for u is a sample and not an original recording I still put Featuring @temsbaby if u weren’t familiar with her work. Thank u Tems.”

Tems’ vocals originally appeared on “Higher” from her 2020 debut EP For Broken Ears. Even though she’s sampled on the song, the 27-year-old earned her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to Future listing her as a feature on “Wait For U.” It’s just her third Hot 100 hit following Wizkid’s “Essence” (No. 15) and Drake’s “Fountains” (No. 26).

Not a stranger to international accolades, Tems was the first African female artiste to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tems bagged two BET Awards, becoming the 1st Nigerian female to win ‘Best International Act’ At BET Awards.

Tems Hit the number 1 spot on the Billboard Charts With a Cover Of “No Woman No Cry”.

Tems became the first Nigerian artiste with the most Billboard Hot 100 appearances.

Tems, Ludwig Göransson, Rihanna, and Ryan Coogler were nominated at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards for “Best Original Song — Motion Picture” for “Lift Me Up” from the film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Apart from winning awards, Tems has also bagged endorsement deals. In 2022, Tommy Hilfiger made her their brand ambassador.

Tems expressed her enthusiasm with a confirmation post on her Instagram page. ”Don’t trip; it’s TEMS x @tommyjeans For Spring 2022! It’s a good day #tommyjeans”, she wrote on IG.

Tems spontaneity and unique music sound also endeared her to the international sporting company Reebok.

The singer got an endorsement deal with the brand less than two months after she got the deal with Tommy Hilfiger.

The sportswear brand announced the deal on Monday, January 7, via a campaign tagged “Life is Not a Spectator Sport.

According to the campaign director and Senior Director of Marketing Creative & Design at Reebok, Jide Osifeso, the campaign aimed to motivate consumers to follow their passions, celebrate their individuality, and become active participants in the world around them.

Tems also bagged a partnership deal with Coca-Cola to take African music to the next stage.

For Tems, having achieved a lot in the last five years, without a doubt the sky is her starting point. In an interview with Rolling stone magazine, the singer says winning the Grammy was ”just the beginning” for her.

“It’s incredible. I get to work with people that, five years ago, were on my playlist. You know, I was jamming with them, and now I’m working with them. It’s such a pleasure, and I feel like this is just the beginning,” she says.

Speaking to Vogue on Monday after her Grammy win, Tems said, “I’ve never been in the same place with so many artists in one space before, People coming together to celebrate work and art.”

Tems added that the Grammys carried poignant significance throughout her childhood. “Back in the day, the Grammys were an event,” she says. “So attending the ceremony was a full-circle moment.”

Accordingly, “Tems’ Grammy win last weekend is a spell of good things to come for female musicians in the Nigerian music scene. Since the 60s, often dubbed the Golden Era of music in West Africa, women have been underserved, undermined, and underrepresented in the creative space, particularly in show business.”

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