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False! Tems not Nigerian first female artiste to win Grammy

Claim: Social media, especially Twitter, was awash with claims that popular Nigerian songstress, Tems, was the first Nigerian female artiste to win a Grammy Award.

Verdict: False. Tems is not the first Nigerian female artist to win the Grammy awards. Sade Adu, and Cynthia Erivo have previously won the coveted music prize.

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The 65th Grammy Awards, held on February 5, 2023, has come and gone, but people continue to discuss it online, offline and worldwide. Like other fans of the entertainment industry around the world, Nigerians have also continued to react to the outcome of the award ceremony, especially as it affects Nigerian artistes.

Nigerians nominated for the 65th Grammy Award include Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems, Damini Ogulu, popularly known by his stage name Burna Boy and Tobe Nwigwe. While others lost all the categories in which they were nominated, Tems won one of the three categories in which she was nominated.

Tems won her nomination in the Best Melodic Rap Performance category for her role in ‘WAIT FOR U,’ where she featured alongside Canadian rapper Drake and American rapper, Future.

Following this win, Nigerians have taken to social media to celebrate and congratulate Tems, describing her as the first Nigerian female artiste to achieve the feat. Such tweets came from one Solé, who has about 66,300 followers on Twitter, Pulse News Nigeria, which has about 1.1 million followers and Nigeria Stories, which has about 160,700 followers among other users.

Tweet from Solé about Tems Grammy Award.
Pulse Nigeria’s tweet.

A similar claim was also tweeted by the Nigerian ruling All Progressive Congress via their verified Twitter handle. The tweet reads in part: 

“Congratulations, Tems @temsbaby (Temilade Openiyi), on Grammy award – a 1st for a female Nigerian artiste.”

Tweet from the Nigerian ruling party.

The news has also been featured in the conventional media, including Punch Newspaper and Okayafrica. The claim has continued to be echoed online and offline, but how true is it?


Contrary to the heralding narratives, DUBAWA finds Tems is not the first female artist to have won a grammy in Nigeria. Two female artistes of Nigerian descent have previously won the Grammy. 

Findings revealed that Sade Adu, a British-Nigerian artiste born to a Nigerian father and British mother in Ibadan in 1959, was the first Nigerian to win the coveted music prize during the 28th Grammy Award in 1986, where she won in the Best New Artist category.

According to Ms Adu’s page on the Grammy website, she had been nominated for the award seven more times since her first nomination – She was nominated for the 29th, 36th, 37th, 44th, 53rd, and 55th editions of the award. She won 4 of her eight nominations – after her luck at the 28th edition of the Grammy award, she also bagged the award during the 36th and 44th editions. She had two nominations during the 53rd edition and won one of the two.

Sade Adu’s page on the Grammy website.

DUBAWA also finds that Cynthia Erivo, a British Nigerian, born to Nigerian parents in England in 1987, has also had two Grammy nominations during the 59th and 63rd editions of the award. While she won the Best Musical Theater Album award for her role in ‘The Colour Purple’ during the 59th edition of the Award in 2017, she lost her second shot at the award during the 63rd edition in 2021.

Cynthia Erivo’s page on the Grammy website.

Although both Sade Adu and Cynthia Erivo do not live or work in Nigeria, they have previously admitted their Nigerian descent and citizenship. 

Who is a Nigerian? 

According to Section 25 of the Nigerian constitution, every person born in Nigeria or outside Nigeria to Nigerian parent(s) is a Nigerian citizen by birth. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory, also states that everyone has the right to a nationality, and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.

Yemi Alade, another female Nigerian artiste, also featured in the Grammy award-winning album of Angelique Kidjo – Mother Nature. The album won in the Best Global Music Album category at the 64th edition of the Grammy Awards in 2022. Yemi Alade is featured in a track titled ‘Dignity’ in the album.


Following checks by DUBAWA, it has been established that Ms Tems is not the first female Nigerian artiste to win the Grammy award. Sade Adu, and Cynthia Erivo have previously won the coveted music prize.

EDITOR’s NOTE: This copy has been edited to reflect that Yemi Alade did not win a Grammy, as previously stated.

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