More music stars change their ‘unacceptable’ names

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Joey Negro will now go under his real name Dave Lee

British dance music DJ Joey Negro is to drop his “unacceptable” stage name and instead go by his real name, Dave Lee.

The move comes a day after fellow DJ The Black Madonna stopped using her own moniker, noting that it had caused “controversy, confusion, [and] pain”.

They are among a number of acts who have changed their names in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last month, US bands Lady Antebellum and Dixie Chicks renamed themselves due to links with the slavery era.

Lee has had four UK top 40 hits and two US dance club chart number ones over the past 30 years under the stage name. He also reached the UK top 10 three times using the pseudonym Jakatta.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, he admitted he had “not felt comfortable with the name Joey Negro for a while, especially as I’ve got older”.

‘Out of place in 2020’

He wrote: “I understand now though that it’s not appropriate for me to carry on using the name.

“I’ve recently received emails, tweets etc saying that it is unacceptable and people find it out of place in 2020 – and I agree.”

He went on: “I’m sorry to have caused any offence. My whole life has been about music but particularly black music, I love soul, funk, disco, jazz in a way that’s impossible for me to articulate in words and I have tried to champion it with the best intentions.”

Lee said he initially came up with the name by merging two of his favourite artists at the time – Pal Joey and J Walter Negro.

He said he adopted the latter’s Spanish pronunciation, wanting his pseudonym to have a “Latin American feel” to fit in with other DJs like Junior Vasquez and David Morales, he said. Spanish house label Blanco Y Negro and the song Piano Negro were big at the time, he explained.

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The Black Madonna has changed her name to The Blessed Madonna

On Monday, US DJ The Black Madonna announced she would go by the name The Blessed Madonna after a petition was launched for her to change it.

The producer, whose real name is Marea Stamper, revealed on Twitter that her chosen 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”.

However, she added she “should have listened harder to other perspectives”.

“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 wrote.

“We all have a responsibility to try and affect positive change in any way we can,” she added.

Other recent name changes in music

  • Chart-topping US country-pop group Lady Antebellum changed to Lady A because Antebellum has connotations with the slavery era. The Grammy-winning Nashville trio said they took the name from an architectural style, but were “deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused”. However, the change has led to a legal dispute with a blues singer who already performed as Lady A.
  • Fellow country band Dixie Chicks are now just The Chicks. “Dixie” was often used as a nickname for the southern states during the US Civil War era. The band’s Martie Erwin Maguire recently told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row: “As race relations have been really tense in the US and in other countries, we’ve really put a microscope on that word ‘Dixie’ and it felt uncomfortable… We just don’t want to have any association with something that can be hurtful to a group of people.”
  • In June, British record label One Little Indian, which has released music by Bjork, Sigur Ros and Paul McCartney’s side-project The Fireman, changed its name to One Little Independent. Founder Derek Birkett said he made the decision after a fan explained why the name – which uses an outdated term for the indigenous people of the Americas – was “offensive”.

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