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Category: jazz names

Cool Baby Names: Jazzy names for Junior

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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.

And then there are the great unique specimens—Bix, Django, Eubie, Thelonius—all exceptionally cool baby names–that might appeal to the intrepid jazz aficionado.

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.

GIRLS

ABBEY Lincoln

ALBERTA Hunter

ANITA O’Day

BILLIE Holiday

BESSIE Smith

BLOSSOM Dearie

CARMEN McRae

CASSANDRA Wilson

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Jazzy Baby Names: Miles, Mose & Mabel

jazz3

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.

And then there are the great unique appellations—Bix, Django, Eubie, Mercer—that could appeal to the intrepid jazz aficionado baby namer.

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:

GIRLS

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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.

 

GIRLS

ALEEN Cust, first British female veternarian

ALIDA B. Jones, early movie actress

ALMA Kruger, Shakespearean actress, later featured in Dr. Kildare movies

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Mardi Gras Names: Baby names from the bayou

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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 HaitianAfrican, 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!

LADIES

Acadia- The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian

Adelaide

Alexandrine

Alma

Alzophine

Ambrosine

AmelineEmeline

Arzilla

Avoyelles- This Cajun Parish might be picked up as a first name, piggybacking on the current Ava and Ellie love

Beatrice

Belle

Berangere

BernadetteA much beloved Catholic saint, and one of the prettiest songs in the native New Orleans Neville Brothers repertoire

Cezelia

Clotille

DelphineWhile Delphine is a lovely and lilting name, Delphine La Laurie was a famous socialite and sadist who tortured her slaves

DixieUsed 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.

Dolucila

Elva

Ernestine

EugenieNapoleon’s first love

EulaEulalie

Evangeline- An epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recalling the 1755 deportation of Acadian Canadians to the newly Spanish Louisiana

Ezora

Geraldine

Gertrude

Ghislaine

Heloise

Ida

JosephineNapoleon’s (second) love

Leonie

Lougenia

Magnolia- The state flower of Louisiana

MahaliaMahalia Jackson is a gospel and blues singer from the area, with a name worth borrowing

MarieMarie Laveau was a reknowned Voodoo Queen who was visited by slaves and owners alike

Maude

Maxzille

Melba

Mellette

MinervaMinnie

Oatha

Odilia

OlaOlla Mae, Olima

Onezie, Onezime

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African-American Heroine Names

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As Black History Month segues into  Women’s History Month this weekend, we thought we’d take a look at the names of some African-American heroines.

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:

ALICE Dunbar-Nelson — Journalist, poet, author.

BARBARA Jordan — Texas Congresswoman who won fame during Nixon impeachment hearings.

BESSIE Coleman — In 1922, became the world’s only licensed black pilot.  She staged flying exhibitions to fund a school to train black aviationists.

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