Tems chose “Soft, But Sultry ” gold gown for her first Grammy performance

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Breakout Tems, a musician from Nigeria, went to her first Grammys last night. The 27-year-old performer, who collaborated with Future, Rihanna, Drake, and Beyoncé last year, was nominated for a number of prizes, including Album of the Year and Best Melodic Rap Performance for her work with Future on Renaissance. From her hotel room on Monday morning, Tems told Vogue, “I’ve never been in the same place with so many artists in one space before.  People coming together to celebrate work and art.”

Tems is from Lagos, Nigeria, but she claims that throughout her youth there, the American music ceremony had a profound impact on her. The Grammys were undoubtedly a big deal back then, according to Tems. So going to the ceremony was like coming full circle. The British fashion house Vivienne Westwood created a gold gown with a va-va-voom silhouette, a corset, and crisscrossing pearl necklaces and straps that the artist chose to wear for the significant occasion. Temilade Openiyi, better known as Tems, describes the appearance as the ideal fusion of “soft, but sultry.”

She claims that in light of the brand’s namesake and founder’s recent passing at the age of 81, she was particularly drawn to wearing a Vivienne Westwood creation. “There were other options — but I just thought it was so special,” Tems says of the dress, which was completed two weeks before last night’s ceremony. “I wanted to wear Vivienne so badly.”

Tems claims that the appearance fits her preference for dualism perfectly. “I feel like I’m feminine. But I think everyone has some type of ratio of feminine and masculine energy,” she said. “Mine occasionally just switches out. Sometimes I’m more feminine, sometimes I’m more masculine. I like to express that in what I wear.”

Tems won her first Grammy during the pre-televised portion of the glitzy ceremony. A personal idol was met, the icing on the cake. Tems says, her voice filled with awe, “I met Mary J. Blige.” “I used to listen to her when I was 13 or 12 like… a lot.” She pauses to imagine what her earlier self could have thought of the significant encounter. “I come from Lagos and, at that time, there was no way I thought I would ever meet her. That was very cool.”

Tems is quickly emerging as a global star in her own right. She hails from Lagos, Nigeria’s thriving cultural hub, which has given birth to a number of exciting, cutting-edge afrobeats artists like Wizkid and Davido. From Lagos, she released her debut EP For Broken Ears in 2020, which gave rise to the popular song “Free Mind.” Three years later, Tems, who wrote “Lift Me Up,” the anthem for Black Panther 2, has a good chance of winning the Academy Award for “Best Original Song.”

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