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Nigerian Secular Artist Tems Wins Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award at 2024 BET Awards

Nigerian secular artist Tems has created a stir by winning the Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award with her song, "Me & U," at the 2024 BET Awards. The ceremony took place on Sunday at the Peacock Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles.

The BET Awards, founded in 2001 by Black Entertainment Television, celebrate the achievements of Black entertainers and other underrepresented groups in music, film, sports, and philanthropy.

Tems' unexpected win highlights the evolving landscape of these awards and the blurring of genres. She triumphed over gospel heavyweights such as Kirk Franklin (with. a double nomination), CeCe Winans, and Maverick City Music. See the full list below:

Best Gospel/Inspirational Award Nominees

  • WINNER: Tems - Me & U

  • Kirk Franklin - All Things

  • Kirk Franklin - Try Love

  • CeCe Winans - Come Jesus Come

  • Maverick City Music - God Problems

  • Chandler Moore - God Problems

  • Halle Bailey - Angel

  • Erica Campbell - Do You Believe In Love?

  • Shirley Caesar - All of the Glory

  • Naomi Raine - God Problems

While the lyrics of "Me & U" do not entirely fit the conventional gospel mold, Tems explained that the music reflects her relationship with God and the transformation she experienced in her journey. The song was initially written in 2021 and officially released on October 5, 2023.

The 29-year-old singer previously won BET awards for Best International Act and Best Collaboration in 2022 for her work on Wizkid’s “Essence.” In 2023, she clinched the Best Collaboration award again for her song “Wait for U,” co-written with Drake and Future, a recognition she also received at the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2022. In an unexpected turn of events, Tems has won a BET Award for Best Gospel/Inspirational Music!!

Tems’ win has sparked a debate about the boundaries of gospel and inspirational music. We cannot deny that there has been an increase in the demand and supply of gospel music over the last decade. This attention to the genre is why these award categories exist in the first place. The lines have however been blurred to the point that there is no distinction between inspirational and gospel. To begin with, Gospel music and inspirational music are not the same and therefore should not be classed together. The fact remains that the gospel is being softened. No one wants to talk about God again in the media. This win makes it clear that if an artist wants to up their chances of winning an award such as this, they would need to swap "Jesus" for "You" and run with it. They are clearly saying to our faces that the songs and artists that portray Christ are just not inspirational enough!

Everyone ought to pick a side. This move shows zero respect for the genre and for the gospel as a whole. Even Tems seemed surprised at the win. Actor Patrick Doyle said, "I feel the pain of mainstream gospel artistes who feel slighted that Tems an evidently secular musician was awarded the BET award for best gospel song. That said I believe it's about time that committed Christians stop seeking validation from fickle institutions like the entertainment industry mafia which by the way is in the grip of satan." We do not do this for the accolades.

While this move has sparked discussions about the essence of gospel music, it also reflects the changing tastes and inclusive nature of contemporary music awards and the media as a whole. There is definitely an agenda. All we will say is, that this move has come to stay. If you make music that shares the gospel, do not be desperate to win these awards. Let your lyrics align with your values. Don't be pressured. Here are a few reactions:

What do you think about this award? Let us know in the comments down below.

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