Nigerian breakout singer Temilade ‘Tems’ Openiyi has become the first African woman to win a BET (Black Entertainment Television) award.
She won the Best International Act category at the 2022 BET awards for her feature on ‘Essence’, the 2021 hit by Wizkid.
Tems defeated international artists such as Dave (UK), Dinos (France), Fally Ipupa (DRC), Fireboy DML (Nigeria), Little Simz (UK), Ludmilla (Brazil), Major League DJz (South Africa) and Tayc (France) to clinch the award.
Tems’ career has been on a roll since ‘Essence’ was released as she began to attract international recognition. She featured on Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’ album, among other cross-border projects.
Though it might seem that Tems came to stardom out of the shadows, the fact is her singing days dates back to when she was 13.
Her passion for singing spurred her to quit her job in 2018 to pursue music head-on. The determination to succeed forced her to acquire new skills – like music production – which she learnt on Youtube.
In the same year, she produced and launched her debut single ‘Mr. Rebel’. Then she matched that with the release of ‘Try me’, which relatively gained some traction.
Gradually, she caught the attention of Nigerian music industry heavyweights, who gave her wings to soar higher.
In 2020, she featured on the remix of American singer-songwriter Khalid and English electronic music duo Disclosure’s single, “Know Your Worth’.
The peak years: 2020 – 2021
In 2020, Tems produced and launched her debut extended play (EP) ‘For Broken Ears’ and her single ‘Damages.’ Both songs topped the Nigerian Apple Music chart list and ranked six on the TurnTable Top 50 chart. It also attracted over five million views on YouTube.
The same year, she appeared on Wizkid’s track ‘Essence.’ This put her in the top place on BBC 1Xtra Airplay Chart and number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 songs.
In 2021, a remix of ‘Essence’ was released, featuring Canadian singer Justin Bieber. The song also climbed to number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.