Nigerian music sensation, Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems, recently shared her personal journey of facing bullying due to the unique tone of her voice during her formative years. The Grammy-winning artist, featured on the cover of The Cut’s January 2024 Magazine, disclosed that she chose to remain silent until the age of three to avoid criticism for not conforming to societal expectations for girls.
Tems revealed the emotional impact of the bullying she endured, expressing how the teasing led to self-consciousness and a belief that her voice was deemed unattractive. Recounting her childhood experiences, she shared, “I was bullied to the point of tears and became a subject of mockery. There was a perception that my voice resembled that of a boy or a frog, with the overarching impression that it was unappealing.”
Despite her current success and recent announcement as a headliner for the 2024 Coachella Festival alongside Afrobeat artists Tyla and Spinall, Tems opened up about her isolated childhood. She described attempts to connect with others through song, only to feel different from girls with sweeter, higher voices.