Prominent DJ Marea Stamper, formerly known as The Black Madonna, has now changed her name to The Blessed Madonna, following a change.org petition to change the name, which was created last week and collected 1000 signatures. There was some contention regarding this name on social media, following allegations that Stamper was culturally appropriating the name “Black Madonna,” which refers to artistic depictions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus in Black or dark brown skin.
The change.org position was written by Monty Luke of Black Catalogue, who said that he emailed the DJ regarding a name change prior to creating the petition. Luke explained that the image of a Black Madonna holds significant value for Black Catholics, but also stated “Religious connotations aside though, it should be abundantly clear that in 2020, a white woman calling herself ‘black’ is highly problematic.” Luke also claimed that the DJ did not respond to his original inquiry, which led to the publication of the petition.
Stamper addressed the controversy and stated that she chose the name in honor of her family’s Catholic devotion, but stated that she should’ve “listened harder to other perspectives .” She went on to explain that her name change was only a small part of a larger issue and that she hopes to come forward to promote positive change.
“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 explained on Instagram. “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.”
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Friends, I have changed my name to The Blessed Madonna. I have always been transparent about my faith because I felt a responsibility to be clear about who I was and who I was not. The name was a reflection of my family’s lifelong and profound Catholic devotion to a specific kind of European icon of the Virgin Mary which is dark in hue. People who shared that devotion loved the name, but in retrospect I should have listened harder to other perspectives. But now I hear loud and clear. 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. 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. I want you to be able to feel confident in the person I am and what I stand for. Thank you for listening. Stay blessed. -Love Marea 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.
Luke wrote a statement to Pitchfork in response to the name change, commending the decision. “I commend Marea Stamper for finally making the decision to cease the use of the name, ‘The Black Madonna.’ The issue of cultural appropriation is pervasive, nuanced and complex. I hope that the dialogue this has sparked continues so that we may gain a deeper understanding and insight from all corners of the dance music community in an effort to move forward together,” he wrote.
This change comes alongside other high profile name changes in the music industry, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Dixie Chicks changed their name to The Chicks and Lady Antebellum changed their name to Lady A, due to their previous name’s causing controversy allegedly romanticizing the 19th century American South and slavery. The band formerly known as Lady Antebellum is facing controversy for their change however, as a blues singer was already utilizing that stage name prior to their announced changed.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna