Nigerian Singer, Temilade Openiyi whose stage is Tems is now living the dream as she is currently one of the most extremely emerging artistes globally. The songstress has worked with both international and local icons as she keeps collaborating in projects that showcase her rare talent. Her euphonious voice has landed her a number of deals with artistes she grew up looking up to, in and out of Nigeria with the most recent being the soundtrack ‘No Woman, No Cry’ for the yet to be released Black Panther; Wakanda Forever.
Tems has also worked with Beyoncé in her recent album ‘Renaissance’ on the song ‘Move’. Her undeniable talent saw her getting featured by Future In ‘Wait 4 U’ track which was sampled from ‘Higher’ one of her song in her 2020 Extended play (EP). She also worked with Drake in his song ‘Fountains’. However, before all these features, Tems’ star started shining after she collaborated with Wizkid in his hit song ‘Essence’.
Whilst this upcoming lyric genius keeps dominating the global entertainment industry by seconds, most of the people are unaware on how she got to the hall of fame in the first place. Tems was born in June 11, 1995 in Lagos, Nigeria to a Nigerian mother and a British- Nigeria father. Her parents relocated to the United Kingdom right after birth and after they started living there, the family extended to four people after her parents gave birth to Tem’s brother, one of the people who played a role in growing Tem’s singing talent.
When she turned five, her parents divorced and Tems alongside her mother and brother moved back to Nigeria for a fresh start in Ilupeju before relocating to Lekki city then Ajah district.
In her early days, Tems used her brother’s computer to listen to all kinds of music genres. In her 2021 interview with ‘The Lines of Best Fit’ she unravelled that using her brother’s iTunes office, she started listening to rap and hip hop from international icons such as Lauryn hill and Lil Wayne.
When she was 7 years old, Tems started feeling a connection to music right after she saw Beyoncé on TV as she was watching Pepsi Countdown. The music legend made Tems to start looking at music differently.
Afterwards, Tems and her brother started performing mini concerts in her brother’s room, they both jammed and played the guitar at the same time.
In her interview with ‘The Fader’, Tems mentioned that during her childhood she once had a teacher who was encouraging her to own her voice in spite of the insecurities she had about it.
“I’ve always loved music and I tried to sing but I thought my voice was too heavy for a girl. I thought I sounded like a man so I used to sing with my falsetto and then I met my music teacher who helped train my voice and encouraged me to keep going,”
When she turned 13 years old, she stopped searching for her own identity through other artistes.
“I didn’t want to sound like someone else. Why would you want to copy someone else when you could be original? It doesn’t make sense. You can never do your best by copying someone else that means your second hand. To find my sound, I stopped listening to everybody when I was around 15 apart from the songs I made with my brother. I wanted to learn how to attack a song from what I was feeling, not what Beyoncé would do or anyone else,” she said.
When she became of age, Tems started attending Dowen College that is situated in Lagos and later on joined Monash South Africa as an economics major.
After she finalized her studies in South Africa, Tems started working an office job as a digital marketer for an oil services company. The plan was to work for a while and save enough for her music career. Six months later, Tems knew it was time to follow her dreams.
‘I wasn’t happy and I knew that music is all I wanted to do. On New Year’s Eve, I received a sign that change was coming because I got a message on my devotional that said ‘Take a Leap’ and I was just like ‘I’m quitting my job today, so I quit Immediately,” she revealed.
As she was performing in London recently, Tems revealed unfolded part about herself with the audience as a way to relate and connect with them beyond the stage.
Tems continued “It took me a lot to see my mom suffer and then I released a song called ‘Mr Rebel.”
In August 2019, she released ‘Try me’ which unravels her resilience and patience in the face of oppression and hurdles life throws her way. Several months afterwards, Tems was featured alongside fellow Nigeria music icon, Davido in Khalid’s track ‘Know Your Worth’.
A year later, she released her debut EP titled ‘For Broken Ears’ which contains seven songs including Free Mind, higher, The Key and Ice T alongside ‘Damage’ as the lead track. In the same year, she was featured by Wizkid in his song ‘Essence’ from the icon’s fourth album dubbed ‘Made in Lagos’ and this is when the world learned of this music genius. This song opened doors for her in mysterious ways as it started earning higher spots on both local and international music charts such as BBC 1Xtra Airplay Chart and Billboard Hot 100. The song also earned her Grammy Award nomination for Best Global Music.
And in August 2021, a reworked version of the song ‘Essence’ with Justin Bieber as an additional feature was released and this exposed Tem’s talent to the world even more.
A short while later, she got featured by Drake in the track ‘Fountains’ in his 2021 album named ‘Certified Lover Boy’ and on September 15 2021, Tems dropped her second EP titled ‘If Orange Was a Place’ which contains five songs and had the RnB legend, Brent Faiyaz as a complimentary feature. This was after she was signed to an American based label, RCA Records alongside other international music talents including Chris Brown, Zayn, Alicia Keys, Doja Cat, Justin Timberlake, SZA, Bryson Tiller, H.E.R and Normani.