On July 19th, 2020, a Change.org petition called for Marea Stamper, formerly known as The Black Madonna, to change her stage name. Shortly after it broke 1,000 signatures, the Chicago DJ and producer officially rebranded as The Blessed Madonna.
The petition was launched by Detroit DJ and producer Monty Luke. “On June 14th of this year, I emailed Marea Stamper, in an effort to open a dialogue about the possibility of her moving away from using her DJ alias, The Black Madonna,” he wrote. “This name, ‘The Black Madonna,’ holds significance for catholics around the world, but especially so for black catholics in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America … I received no response.”
Stamper, a devout Catholic who chose the alias in reference to dark-skinned depictions of the Virgin Mary, addressed Luke’s complaint in a July 20th statement. “My artist name has been a point of controversy, confusion, pain and frustration that distracts from things that are a thousand times more important than any single word in that name,” she tweeted. “We’re living in extraordinary times and this is a very small part of a much bigger conversation, but we all have a responsibility to try and affect positive change in any way we can.”
Race and Dance Music
Worldwide Black Lives Matter protests stemming from the apparent murder of George Floyd, a black man, by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin have amplified the conversation on race and dance music. Stamper is only the most example of an industry figure thought to have appropriated or otherwise sidelined people of color, whose influence on the genre cannot be overstated.
In June, Native Instruments was accused of ignoring concerns from BIPOC staff members that a 2017 promotion tokenized a black artist (the company has since announced efforts to “improve diversity and inclusion“). A week later, Awakenings Festival‘s organizers were criticized for failing to book electronic musicians of color for their online makeup event.
Stamper closed out her statement with a message drawing attention to a police brutality case nearly as central to the protests as that of Floyd. “PS: If you read this far, arrest the cops that murdered Breonna Taylor in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky: Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove,” she wrote.