Marea Stamper, professionally known as the Blessed Madonna, is one of the most celebrated DJs of her time, thanks to her eclectic, joyous sets, which can encompass anything from classic electro and new wave to the latest techno and house white labels. Her production work, including the widely praised 2016 single "He Is the Voice I Hear," walks the line between disco and techno, with the emotional weight of the former and the driving momentum of the latter. One of dance music's foremost activists, she is renowned for her commitment to humanitarian work and her outspoken views on LGBTQ rights and gender inclusivity.
Stamper was born in 1977 into a Christian family in rural Kentucky. She discovered electronic dance music at the age of 14, when she snuck into her first rave. Two years later, Stamper dropped out of school to travel around America selling rave gear, including mixtapes, at parties. She taught herself to DJ while majoring in English at Louisville University, using the college radio station — and a barn full of rare funk records — as her initial platform. Soon after her studies concluded, Stamper was contacted by Radek, an acquaintance from her mixtape-selling days, who offered her a position at his new label, Dust Traxx, in Chicago. Soon after relocating, she launched herself into Chicago's nightlife, initially using the name Lady Foursquare.
After a few years, Stamper began to discover her own sound, changing her moniker to the Black Madonna — named after religious iconography — in the process. Her debut release, Alright This Morning, came out on Home Taping Is Killing Music in 2012, leading to a residency at Smart Bar. A year later, Stamper was appointed creative director of the venue, through which she aimed to create more diversity within the scene, including the launch of DAPHNE: A Women's Movement in Dance Music. Her 2013 EP Lady of Sorrows sold more copies than her previous releases, resulting in an increase in popularity and bookings worldwide. A string of further releases culminated in her 2016 single "He Is the Voice I Hear," which acted as the first record for her own label, We Still Believe. Mixmag named her DJ of the year (the first time they granted a woman the award), and she appeared on the magazine's cover wearing a gold crown.
In 2017, Stamper began a residency at London club XOYO, selling out the venue for 13 straight weeks. She then relocated to the city and became a popular DJ on BBC Radio One. She appeared as herself in the video game Grand Theft Auto Online, where she was given a radio station called We Believe. While she hasn't released any original material since "He Is the Voice I Hear," she has delivered high-profile remixes for Robyn, Silk City & Dua Lipa, Georgia, and others. Stamper officially changed her stage name to the Blessed Madonna in July of 2020, following the wave of worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. She mixed Dua Lipa's Club Future Nostalgia: The Remix album, which arrived the following August. The project's first single was her remix of the song "Levitating," featuring Missy Elliott as well as the other, more famous Madonna. ~ Liam Martin & Paul Simpson