Category: jazz names
There’s something undeniably cool and, well, jazzy, about many of the distinctive names of jazz musicians. Take the ultimate example, the personification of cool –Miles Davis– who imparted an eternally silky, seductive veneer to his name, as did Quincy Jones.
The inimitable Ella Fitzgerald gave her name a jazzy edge long before Ella was anywhere near the top of the pop lists. Names like Ray and Roy, Cecil and Percy and Dexter all take on an appealing funkiness and rise to another level when looked at in the context of jazz.
The surnames of jazz immortals can be considered as well, just as they have by a few celebs—model Helena Christensen’s Mingus, and Woody Allen’s Bechet, for example. The middle name of Wynton Marsalis’s son Jasper is Armstrong; Cynthia Nixon’s boy Max has Ellington as a middle.
There’s something undeniably cool and, well, jazzy, about the names of jazz musicians. Take the ultimate example, the personification of cool –Miles Davis– who imparted a silky, seductive veneer to his name, as Quincy Jones did to his.
The inimitable Ella Fitzgerald gave hers a jazzy edge long before Ella was anywhere near the pop lists. Names like Ray and Roy, Cecil and Percy and Dexter all take on an appealing funkiness and rise to another level when looked at in the context of jazz.
Jazz immortals’ surnames are another possiblity,as chosen by a few celebs—model Helena Christensen called her son Mingus, and Woody Allen used Bechet, the name of one of his musical heroes, Sidney Bechet.
Here, some of the jazziest choices:
- ABBEY Lincoln
- ALBERTA Hunter
- ANITA O’Day
- BESSIE Smith
- BLOSSOM Dearie
- CARMEN McRae
- CASSANDRA Wilson
- CLEA Bradford
- CLEO Laine
- DAKOTA Staton
- DELLA Reese
- DINAH Washington
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 and first observed on May 30 of that year, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. So this year, instead of looking back again at the names of Civil War generals and such, I thought it could be more enlightening to look instead at well-known people (with interesting names) who were born in 1868—giving us a bird’s-eye view of some aspects of post-Civil War baby naming, both in America and elsewhere.
ALEEN Cust, first British female veternarian
ALMA Kruger, Shakespearean actress, later featured in Dr. Kildare movies
To celebrate New Orleans’s triumphant Super Bowl victory, as well as today’s Shrove Tuesday launch of Mardi Gras, here is the fascinating blog created for us last year by guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn of ”You Can’t Call It It.” Elisabeth is a writer, artist, and mother who lives in Brooklyn, New York.
An inspiration for everything from vampires to voodoo, from zydeco to the Krewe of Zulu, Louisiana has been a colorful melting pot of divergent cultures for centuries. Cajuns from Canada, Creoles and others of Haitian, African, Italian, Spanish, or Native American descent, all come together to form a mélange of backgrounds, and in point of fact, names. Most share a history of French language and Catholicism, even if it’s not by blood. While these may not be the choices in use today in the Bayou, they have been culled from historical documents, maps, and folklore from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. The majority are either French proper, or my favorite, Frenchified. Still more trace their roots to Classical Greco-Roman civilization, deep Southern culture, or are somewhere farther afield and include a curious preponderance of the letter Z.
So come on! Allez-y! Chew on these names (and some maque choux), prepare to bare all for those beads, and laissez les bon temps roulez!
Acadia- The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian
Dixie- Used to refer to the South at large, this may have originated in New Orleans on the ten dollar bill, upon which a local bank printed “dix”, the French for ten.
Actually, compiling this list was not as easy as you might think (or as it should be). Google and book searches tended to turn up only the usual suspects. And then, late as usual, I bought my 2009 calendar from the bargain bin: A Journey Into 365 Days of Black History — Notable Women.
An array of admirable women are listed there, all of whom would provide wonderful role models (and lovely names) for any child. The best:
BESSIE Coleman — In 1922, became the world’s only licensed black pilot. She staged flying exhibitions to fund a school to train black aviationists.
CHARLOTTE Ray — In 1872, became the first black female lawyer.
CONSTANCE Baker Motley — First black female federal judge.
FAYE Wattleton — Women’s rights activist.
JOSEPHINE Baker — Politically-minded entertainer who was the Angelina Jolie of her day.
KARA Walker — Artist best known for her silhouettes.
LENA Horne — Actress, singer, and civil rights activist.
MABEL Mercer — English singer.
MAHALIA Jackson — Gospel singer.
MARIAN Wright Edelman — Children’s Defense Fund founder.
NATALIE Hinderas — Composer and classical musician.
PEARL Bailey — Actress and singer.
PHILLIS Wheatley — First published African-American female poet. The name Phillis or Phyllis, the Roman goddess of spring, was typical of the classical names given to early African-Americans.
PRUDENCE Crandall — White woman arrested for teaching black girls at her school in 1833.
ROSA Parks — Heroine of the famous bus boycott that launched the civil rights movement.
RUBY Dee — Actress.
SHIRLEY Chisholm — First black woman elected to Congress.
SOJOURNER Truth — Abolitionist and women’s rights activist.
TONI Morrison — Novelist who won the Nobel Prize in literature.
WILMA Rudolph — Olympic runner.