Tems: From Church Singer to Global Afro-RnB Queen

by | Dec 14, 2021 | CSA Celebrates, Culture, Entertainment, Music, Talent

  • Providence: Nigeria
  • From Church Singer to Global Afro-RnB Queen
  • Tems & Wizkid: The Global Success of “Essence”
  • An Artist
  • What’s next?

From Church Singer to Global Afro-RnB Queen

Once a shy singer in church, Afro R&B superstar, Tems, is now an award winning and internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter who has risen to become one of Nigeria’s most recognized and celebrated singers, working with such global & local artists as Davido, Wizkid, Drake, Jorja Smith, and Justin Bieber.

With her first EP, “For Broken Ears”, Tems challenged many conventions of the rising West African Alté sub-genre with its indie-leaning lyrical approach and thick basslines. The album includes the artist’s first national hit, “Damages”, which topped the Apple Music Top 100: Nigeria songs chart garnering critical support from global superstars, SZA and Rihanna.

After landing a major record deal with RCA, Tems dropped her chart-topping EP “If Orange Was a Place” in 2020. The album was produced by Afro-beatmaker, GuiltyBeats, including a feature from RnB singer and Sonder front man, Brent Faiyaz, and even landed a place on Barack Obama’s 2020 playlist.

Coming in hot after dropping “If Orange Was a Place”, Tems then featured on the song, “Fountains”, on Drake’s sixth studio LP, “Certified Lover Boy”. And then came “Essence,” the monster 2020 collaboration with fellow Nigerian Afro-beats icon, Wizkid.

Tems & Wizkid: The Global Success of “Essence”

The self-proclaimed besties and Afro-beats power duo received major international praise for their collaboration on “Essence,” which received a Grammy nod for ‘Best Global Music Performance’ last month and became the first Nigerian song to spend a year on Billboard World Album charts.  

The song’s success led to a remix featuring Justin Bieber in August this year – testament to Nigerian Afrobeats’ impact on American music culture. Tems also joined Wizkid onstage as he took his music to London during his ‘Made in Lagos’ world tour.

The two made another global stage appearance last week when they featured as musical guests on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,’ performing the hit single.

The music video for “Essence”, released in April this year, shows the two hanging out on the streets of Accra, Ghana, and received a nomination for the ‘Video of the Year’ award at the 2021 Soul Train Awards.  “Essence” was also nominated for ‘Best Song of the Year’ and won the ‘Best Collaboration’ award, as well as ‘Best African Collaboration’ and ‘Song of the Year’ at the 2021 All African Music Awards (AFRIMA Awards).

The Artist

For Tems, it is not about committing to a specific genre, style, or sound but, rather, she chooses to stay focused on telling her story. As such, the 26-year-old singer is dedicated to reflecting her life through her songs and commits to being honest, relatable, and true to herself throughout the process. Lyrically, Tems addresses introspective and emotive themes and embraces matters that are perceived as unconventional within African culture.

What’s next?

Earlier this month, she was included in the BBC annual ‘Sound Of’ longlist. Selected by a panel of 130 industry experts including DJs, journalists, and festival bookers, the list aims to highlight the new and rising artists that are expected to do big things in the upcoming year. This year, the panel includes previous nominees, Jorja Smith, Ed Sheeran, and Billie Eilish and the poll has previously been won by internationally celebrated musicians such as Adele and Sam Smith. The winner will be announced on January 6 next year. 

Nominated for ‘Best New Artist’ at the 2021 Soul Train Awards, Tems believes that there is an African talent evolution taking place and is committed to “doing her bit for the bigger picture” by showcasing African talent in the global music community.

Back home, this week (December 16), Tems is coming full circle – set to headline her first concert in Nigeria in two years at the Livespot X Festival, Lagos’ first ever weeklong concert experience.

C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.

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