In the first verse of “Wickedest” from her debut album, Born in the Wild, Tems hit listeners with the line, “Three years and I’m only just getting started” — and what an explosive few years it’s been for the global star.

Born Temilade Openiyi, Tems began to gain attention with her singles “Mr Rebel” in 2018 and “Try Me” in the following year. By 2020, the Nigerian alté R&B singer and producer released her debut EP, For Broken Ears. She also featured on Wizkid’s Made In Lagos for “Essence” that same year. Several months later, the song took the world by storm and became an instant 2021 summer hit. “Free Mind” off her EP also went from blowing up on TikTok to climbing the Billboard charts. The track earned the rising celebrity a platinum single and added another notch to her belt, firmly establishing her as one of today’s hottest artists.

Following her global success with “Essence,” Tems became a Grammy Award winner, snagged an Oscar nomination, landed a No.1 record on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and collaborated with the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Drake.

Amidst a meteoric rise to international stardom, Tems’ list of accomplishments keeps expanding. So, let’s take a look at 13 facts you may not have known about the “Love Me JeJe” songstress.

1. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but briefly lived in the U.K.

With a British-Nigerian father and a Nigerian mother, Tems moved to the U.K. during her early childhood. However, her parents later separated, which led to her moving back to Lagos with her mother. She has spent most of her life there — in Ilupeju, Lekki Phase 1, and Ajah, specifically.

2. Her love for music began after listening to Celine Dion

In her interview with Kendrick Lamar for Interview Magazine, the vocalist recounted how she gravitated towards music. Growing up in Nigeria, Celine Dion was among the popular artists whose music played often. The Canadian music legend’s voice instantly caught the attention of a young Tems.

“I’m not sure when the first time I heard music was, but I found myself loving the radio, and I used to hear Celine Dion,” she recalled. “Nigerians love Celine Dion. Her songs are very emotional, jump-off-a-cliff type songs. They entered my soul. I think that’s where my love for music started.”

3. Solitude ultimately led to her love of music

During her adolescent years, the RCA Records signee was very shy and reserved. For that reason, she found herself having only a small handful of friends. During a chat with YouTuber, Korty Eo, the singer shared how she sheltered herself from the world and found an early escape in her love for music.

4. Her high school music teacher was one of the first people to cheer her on

Although there was no doubt that the “Me & U” singer was passionate about music from a young age, there was a time when she was unsure of her voice. Her initial lack of confidence stemmed from being bullied for having a deep voice. However, a high school music teacher instilled confidence in her gift. From then on, Tems embraced having a unique voice to offer the world.

5. She wrote her first full song at 17 years old

In her conversation with Kendrick Lamar for Interview Magazine, the award-winning artist shared that she began writing songs at around 9 or 10 years old. However, it wasn't until she was 17 years old that she wrote her first official song, according to ELLE. She also revealed that the song was “about a Sunday morning,” and was inspired by the 2010s era of music.

6. She taught herself how to produce and engineer

According to NPR, Tems’ desire to learn how to produce her own music came from being unable to connect with a producer who understood her vision and sound. Lacking the support she needed, the singer decided to take matters into her own hands. With a little help from YouTube, the Nigerian talent taught herself how to become her own producer and engineer. The new skillset allowed her to remain authentic when it came to her artistry.

7. She has written and produced most of her discography

In 2020, the genre-blending singer came out swinging with For Broken Ears. She wrote all the songs on its tracklist and produced almost every record, except for “Damages.” Her songwriting streak continued into her second EP, If Orange Was A Place, which was released in 2021. Per NPR, she also wrote, produced, and engineered, most of her debut album, Born in the Wild. “I felt like, for my first album, it should be me,” she explained to the publication.

8. She couldn’t afford to upload her first single

On The Angie Martinez Show, Tems detailed how her music career was born of humble beginnings. One of the challenges she faced in 2018 was that she couldn’t afford to upload her first single, “Mr Rebel.” She shared that it cost $12, and she didn’t have an international card to make the payment. Luckily, help arrived from a stateside aunt, who footed the bill for the upload.

9. Before becoming a musician, she was an economics major

Before achieving any musical success, Tems attended and graduated from IIE MSA, formerly known as Monash South Africa, in Johannesburg, where she majored in economics. While she was able to transition into a music career after graduating with a degree, she told HOT 97 she empathizes with people who don’t want to take the higher education route — especially creatives. Finishing school was a challenge for her, knowing deep down she wanted to wholeheartedly pursue music all along.

10. She once had a job in digital marketing

Tems had a corporate 9-to-5 in digital marketing before venturing into the music industry. From the start, she knew the job wasn’t for her, and music was her calling. So, she took a leap of faith and told her boss that she quit. “She was like, ‘If you're not careful, I will fire you,’” Tems told NPR. “And I was like, ‘Actually, this is the best time to say I want to quit.’ I was like, ‘I'm going to sing.’ She was livid.”

“I left the room shaking but I felt relieved, like ‘OK, now I’m starting my real life,’” the singer added.

11. Watching business-focused YouTube channels is one of her hobbies

In her conversation with Korty Eo, Tems shared that she’s a YouTube fanatic. What’s more, she revealed a few of her favorite channels to watch, including Steven Bartlett’s “The Diary Of A CEO” and Myron Golden. “YouTube is my Netflix,” she said. “I watch interviews, like talking series of really intelligent people.”

12. She had her own radio show

In 2022, the hitmaker introduced “Leading Vibe Radio” on Apple Music. Alongside her co-hosts — manager, Muyiwa Awoniyi, and her older brother, Adetunji “Tunji” Paul — Tems launched the show to help people, especially creatives and African women, to find their voice.

“‘Leading Vibe Radio’ is really aimed at talking about real things,” Tems said, per Apple Music. “Shining a light on women, artists, and creatives, that are finding their way, finding their voice and talking about how to be good soil — something that greatness can grow out of.”

13. She is involved in philanthropy

That same year, Tems announced she was selling clothes and accessories from her closet in Lagos. She then turned it into an annual event, sending proceeds from the sales to the Women at Risk International Foundation, a Lagos-based non-profit that works to raise global awareness and advocate against gender-based violence in Nigeria and across Africa.

“I just thought, what's a way that I can do this? Not just partnering with them, but also doing something else that involves other people as well and creates awareness,” she told Cool FM Nigeria. “So, I thought this sale would kill two birds with one stone; solving my shopaholic problems and also bringing awareness to organizations I think need that spotlight.”