Who is Orlandus Dunning? Lizzo’s relative says she stole samples in 2016’s ‘Coconut Oil’ from funeral in $750K suit
Detroit-born rapper, singer and flautist Lizzo was recently sued for a few bars of a gospel hymn that she used from the audio of a relative's funeral without permission on her 2016 song 'Coconut Oil'. She now faces a federal lawsuit.
Detroit News reported that Orlandus Dunning, a distant relative of the singer, is set to sue the chart-topper over her alleged illegal use of parts of his voice in one of her songs. Dunning is seeking $750,000 in the lawsuit, which claims he "suffered anguish, embarrassment and outrage" after the song was released by Atlantic Records.
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Who is Orlandus Dunning?
Orlandus Dunning, a Detroit resident, is an elder in the Church of God In Christ, where the funeral was held. His Instagram profile shows that he has a son named Vencent and two grandchildren. He actively shares posts, always smiling, with family and friends.
His Facebook profile says that he's a graduate of Wayne State University. He also does landscaping and has a string of customers. He's also a lover of fashion, often posing in furs and bright Dolce and Gabbana suits. He was the commentator for his church's annual Breakfast and Fashion Review in 2019, celebrating the church's 112th holy convocation. Dunning's name is mentioned on music and lyrics site Genius.com in connection to 'Coconut Oil', and on Discogs for the same.
Dunning asserted that the clip that Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, sampled, was of his hymnal performance at an event. He added that he would have never approved of the sample because 'Coconut Oil' and its message are "contradictory to his own brand and beliefs as an ordained elder." The lawsuit does not, however, specify why the song is contrary to the elder's beliefs.
"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 said. "(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," it added.
The suit contends that Lizzo "knew or should have known that portraying (Dunning) in such a light would cause him distress based on his position as an Elder in the church." Dunning had filed the lawsuit in Wayne Circuit Court in December, but it was moved on Friday to the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
'Coconut Oil' was the title track on Lizzo's six-song EP, her first major-label release, which reached #31 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The song itself, however, did not chart. The Church of God In Christ is a Pentecostal–Holiness Christian denomination, that frowns deeply on mixing the sacred and secular, All Hip Hop reported, quoting a Cogic Justice report.
Listen to 'Coconut Oil' here: