Nigerian singer and songstress Temilade Owoniyi who goes by the stage name “Tems” bagged home a Grammy award for Best Melodic Rap Performance for her contribution to the hit collaboration “Wait For U” with Future and Drake. The singer who was also nominated for Best Rap Song in the aforementioned song and Album of The Year as a featured artist on Beyonce’s “Renaissance” has been praised by fans and music enthusiasts as the first Nigerian woman to take home a Grammy award.
While Tem’s victory is a major win for the Nigerian music industry and its globally recognized Afrobeats genre, for proper documentation of music history, it is important to note that the “Mr Rebel” crooner is not the first Nigerian woman to earn a Grammy award. Although not as popular and profound as Tems win, some other Nigerian women have equally worked the road and attained the Grammy nod.
Here are some Nigerian female artists that have won Grammy Awards.
If you are a millennial born in Nigeria, you must have probably grown up with your parents listening to Sade Adu’s records. The Sweetest Taboo was the most popular of them all. Sade Adu was the first Nigerian female artist to win a Grammy award having received an award for Best New Artist in 1986 and having 3 other Grammy wins to her name: Best R&B Performance by a duo or group with her vocals in 1994 for the song “No Ordinary Love,” Best Pop Vocal Album, with the song “Lovers Rock” in 2002 and an award for the Best R&B Performance by a group with vocals in 2011 for “Soldier of Love.”
Even though many believe that Sade Adu doesn’t identify as a Nigerian woman but a British woman, she was born in Ibadan to a Nigerian Professor and an English nurse in 1959 and moved to Sussex, England at the age of four after her parents divorced.
In recognition of her work in the Broadway show “The Color Purple,” where she played Celie, British-Nigerian singer-songwriter Cynthia Erivo won the Best Musical Theater Album Grammy at the 2017 Grammy Awards. In the Broadway show, Cynthia portrays Celie. The show earned her a 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical as well.
Although the Broadway actress who goes by the full name Cynthia Chinasaokwu Erivo wasn’t born or bred in Nigeria she is of Nigerian descent born to Nigerian parents in London, in 1987. The Grammy star is also one step away from EGOT status (someone who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony).
NOTE: She didn’t get the Grammy “gong” but was awarded a certificate for her contributions to Angelique Kidjo’s Mother Nature album.
Mama Africa as she is fondly called by fans in some parts of Africa has also earned a Grammy nod. Although, not as profound as the others, Yemi Alade earned a Grammy award certificate for featuring in the lead single of Angelique Kidjo’s Mother Nature Album which took home the Grammy for Best Global Album at the 2022 Grammy awards. The “Johnny” crooner gave a shout-out to Angelina Kidjo during her speech for including her on the album.
Nigerian Afrobeats singer and musician, Niniola Apata got a Grammy award certificate similar to that of Yemi Alade as a composer on Beyonce’s Grammy Award-winning album, ‘The Lion King‘. She received a Grammy award certificate for the album’s win in two categories: “Best Pop Vocal Album” and “Best Music Film”.
Tems is the most recent and the most talked about Nigerian female Grammy award-winning artist so it’s only proper that we put her name last. Tems received an award for Best Global Music album for her contribution to “Wait For U”.
Tems was born and bred in Nigeria and has no link to any other nationality little wonder that there was a consensus that she was the first Nigerian female Grammy award winner. Tem’s rise to global fame began with her feature in Wizkid’s Essence from his 2020 Made in Lagos album. Since then, she’s worked with various international acts like Drake, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Brent Faiyas earning herself a Grammy award which has brought wide celebration amongst Nigerians in the diaspora.