Born Temilade Openiyi on June 11, 1995, in Lagos, Nigeria to a Nigerian mother and a British-Nigerian father, Tems Baby as she is fondly called has successfully carved a niche for herself in the Nigerian music industry and even beyond.
The songwriter and record producer who was noticed by her music teacher says her love for music began from age eleven, and it has never stopped her from wanting more. In her words;
“I didn’t like to do so many things but I loved music a lot and I knew early on that I wanted to develop myself in it.”
Tems learned to play the piano and practiced singing with her brother’s guitar accompaniment. She says the legends who shaped her through their music include Asa, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Beyoncé, and Rihanna. Today, the 26-year-old Alternative R&B/Afro beats singer is one of Nigeria’s most sought-after singers. She’s currently signed on to Leading Vibe LTD record label.
Despite being tagged an alte artiste, Tems says she “didn’t choose any genre” and is sticking to what she’s good at. According to her;
“I was making the music I make without thinking about what genre it was. Doing that would be me limiting myself. That’s why my music can easily be seen as genre fluid I think because it’s really a mix of different sounds. I make music based on my life and my experiences not so much based off other people’s perceptions or preferences. I have also tried genres from Afro-pop to reggae to dancehall to South African House Music to hip hop to R ‘n’ B to neo-soul.”
In 2018, Tems recorded ‘Mr. Rebel’ a song of her own composition. And in August 2019, she released the single ‘Try Me’, which became a major hit and currently has over 6.9 million views on YouTube. She was featured that year by American singer Khalid and fellow Nigerian Davido to join in an Afrobeats remix of ‘Know your worth’. Her single ‘Damages‘ from her For Broken Ears EP became another follow-up hit to ‘Try Me‘, garnering 6.6 million views on YouTube.
In 2020, her collaboration with Wizkid on their song ‘Essence‘ earned her a number one spot on BBC 1Xtra Airplay Chart as of 30 January 2021. On November 8, 2020, she was included in The Future Awards Africa: Class of 2020.
Wizkid’s “Essence” featuring Tems becomes the first Nigerian song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 as it debuts at #82.
Below are some of her awards so far:
- Best Vocal Performance (Female) and Best Alternative Song – The Headies, 2019
- Next Rated Artiste (Female) – City People Music Award, 2020
- Next Rated – The Headies, 2020
In December 2020, Tems and fellow Nigerian artist Omah Lay, in a visit to Uganda for a live performance, were arrested for violating COVID-19 safety laws. They were later released and the charges were dropped. Shortly after, Omah Lay in an interview disclosed that they are in a relationship which began after they were arrested in Uganda. In his words,
“Me and Tems have a relationship. We were not friends before, but this whole Uganda thing brought us together”.