‘I was always in my small world’—Tems Reflects on Overcoming Voice-Related Bullying

Tems, the Nigerian singer who has earned a Grammy award, professionally known as Temilade Openiyi, recently opened up about her childhood struggles. She candidly discussed facing bullying due to the unique tone of her voice.

In an interview with The Cut, the singer of ‘Essence’ disclosed that she remained silent until the age of three. Acknowledging a sense of self-consciousness, she shared how her voice differed from the girls she grew up with.

I was bullied to the point of tears and was a target of ridicule. This led to the belief that I sounded like a boy, or a frog, with the impression that my voice was ugly.

“I was always in my little world. When I did make friends, I would try to make them sing my songs, and other girls had these sweet, high voices and my voice had a bass,” she said.

Remember that the singer had previously mentioned that she ventured into music due to a lack of friends. Her breakthrough to international fame occurred in 2020 when she collaborated with Wizkid on the track ‘Essence.’

She has since established a noteworthy presence in the Nigerian music scene, earning numerous accolades and recognition.

In February 2023, the musical sensation earned her inaugural Grammy award. Tems secured the ‘Best Melodic Rap Performance’ honor for her contribution to Future’s 2022 hit track ‘Wait for U,’ featuring Drake.


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