Lizzo Sued for Sampling Funeral Performance on ‘Coconut Oil’

Orlandus Dunning, an elder in the Church of God in Christ in Detroit, accuses the ‘Truth Hurts’ rapper of illegally sampling his audio from a gospel hymn during a mutual relative’s funeral on her 2016 song.

AceShowbizLizzo is facing yet another copyright infringement allegation. The Grammy Award-winning artist has been sued for allegedly sampling a funeral performance for her 2016 self-love anthem, “Coconut Oil”.

Detroit resident Orlandus Dunning, who filed the lawsuit, accuses the 32-year-old raptress of taking audio from a “mutual relative’s funeral” and sampling it on “Coconut Oil” without obtaining permission. He claims in the lawsuit that the snippets of audio that open and close the song were recordings of a hymn he sang during a funeral of a mutual relative.

Dunning, an elder in the Church of God In Christ, filed the lawsuit in Wayne Circuit Court in December 2020, but it was moved on Friday, March 26 to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He claims he “suffered anguish, embarrassment and outrage” after the song was released by Atlantic Records.

“When Plaintiff sang the devotional, it was at a private funeral and done for the specific purpose of uplifting his family and friends during their time of bereavement,” the lawsuit says, per The Detroit News. “(Dunning) had a reasonable expectation of privacy and that his voice would not be heard publicly, as the funeral where he sang was held privately and open only to family and close friends,” the court documents continue to read.

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Dunning goes on claiming that Lizzo “recorded this audio without either (Dunning’s) knowledge or consent,” adding he “did not and would not have consented to the use of his voice this way because the message in the song is contradictory to his own brand and beliefs as an ordained elder in the Church of God In Christ … organization.”

Dunning is seeking $750,000 in damages. He names the record company, along with Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, Nice Life Recording Co. (an Atlantic subsidiary) and Warner Music Group Corp., which owns Atlantic, as defendant in the lawsuit.

Lizzo’s camp has not immediately responded to the lawsuit. Meanwhile, the star appeared to remain nonchalant on social media, updating her Instagram Story with pictures of her showing her fashion style instead.

“Coconut Oil” is the title track of Lizzo’s first major-label EP that also contains hit single “Good as Hell”, which became popular two years after its release. She recently won legal battle over her viral sleeper hit and Grammy-winning song “Truth Hurts”.

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