Tems’ presence in the Nigerian music industry has been that of a whirlwind, especially after the release of her rapturous single Try Me in 2019. She’s got the markings of rising star, attempting to break into other African music markets and international borders with collaborations like last year’s feature with Khalid and Disclosure on Know Your Worth.
For Apple Music’s Juneteenth-inspired freedom songs, a collection of covers and originals, Tems was picked to cover John Legend’s Ordinary People first released in 2009. Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late 1880’s. It wasn’t until 2020 that Tems first heard of the momemtous day.
”I’m sure it has always been a huge moment, but living in Nigeria, I felt like there was an added awareness last year with all the things that went on in the world,” she says. ”Freedom is important both as individuals and also as a people learning there was a day that marked the freedom of Black people in the US shows how far we’ve come and also points to the work still to be done.”
Tems had chose Legend’s Ordinary People for its simplicity and potency. ”The message cuts clear because of it,” she adds.
On the cover, Tems is self-assured and confident holding down tricky notes, emoting the song’s message of hope with soulful vocals. Listen to the song here.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.