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Category: musical baby 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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rock4

In her debut blog for Nameberry, our newest intern, Hannah Tenison, shares her favorite classic rock ‘n’ roll baby names.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.”

When your name is crooned by Eric Clapton, it takes on a whole new level of cool. Undoubtedly chosen for its lyrical, laid-back, la la la sound, Layla also sports an intriguing meaning that suits the song’s bluesy quality: “ night” in Arabic. Practically unknown before the song’s release, Layla first hit the U.S. Top 1000 in 1972, when Clapton’s rock ballad achieved chart success. There, it hovered for awhile, fell off the charts again, and then emerged anew upon the release of Layla’s Unplugged version in 1992, when it began a steady climb to baby name stardom. Today, Layla rests at an unquestionably popular Number 37, and is sure to climb even higher, given all its attractive characteristics.

Though it is probable that not all parents of little Laylas were inspired by the song, it is sure to have influenced at least some, and for those willing to dig a bit deeper into rock history for inspiration, past the dated “Roxanne” (The Police) and “Barbara Ann” (The Beach Boys), there are a number of likely gems á la Layla, just waiting to be discovered. While that list does tend to favor the girls, who tend to be more popular subjects of love songs than men, if one looks past the songs and toward the artists themselves, a whole treasure trove of possibilities can be found, and not all of them as far out as one would think.

Here are my favorite rock ‘n’ roll baby names for boys and girls, with the songs and artists referenced. (The Beatles, in particular, seem to have had their finger on the baby naming pulse!)  Keep in mind that these lists are not comprehensive, but, rather, reflect those names that seem particularly relevant to the modern day crowd, have an intriguing sound, or simply have that rockin’ edge.

GIRLS

Alice (White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane and Alice Cooper)

Athena (Athena, The Who)

Caroline (Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond)

Cecilia (Cecilia, Simon and Garfunkel)

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Word Baby Names: Pro or con?

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Question of the Week: How do you feel about word names?

Of course the category of word names encompasses a lot of different types: nature names, color names, virtue names and other nouns (and the line between words and names sometimes blurs).

Which kinds do you and do you not like?

How about spiritual names such as Trinity, Serenity, Journey?

Musical names like Cadence, Harmony, Lyric?

Newer names like Dream, Story, Fable?

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rockbaby

Rock musicians have gotten the rap of being the most extreme baby namers, which certainly is true for some but by no means all.  This led me to wonder if their choices bore any relationship to the kind of music they played: would the Dixie Chicks, for example, pick names with a countryish flavor, Atomic Kitten more edgy?

And how about within the groups– were their choices in sync?  Since they functioned basically  as families on the road, how did their kids’ names work as sibsets?  In the examples listed below, you can see certain similarities—such as a Beatles theme running through the  Oasis offspring, and several other musical references, including Jagger, Les Paul, Elvis, Madonna, Bebop and even Rock .

ATOMIC KITTEN

ALFIE RIAD

CASPAR

HEIDI ELIZABETH

HARRY

JOSH

LILLY-SUE

MAXWELL MARK

MOLLY MARIE

BARENAKED LADIES

ARDEN

BENJAMIN

FINNIAN DAVIES

HAZEL

ISAAC

JONAH

LEO

LYLE

MILI

OSCAR

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It’s not really so surprising that the names of dances would be strikingly rhythmic and melodic, but when I started to look into it, I was somewhat taken aback by the sheer number and variety—and by how many of them could conceivably be seen as baby names.

The following list cuts across time and space, from Italian Renaissance peasant dances and  stately minuets to complex international folk dances to Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers to 1960s line dancing to 1980s Brazilian zouk.

ABHIA—a ceremonial dance done by southern Sudan tribal women around a mango tree

ABRAXAS—a serpentine ritual dance of the Greek Gnostics to the deity of that name

ALEMANDER—folk dance performed in Germany and Switzerland

APARINA—a Tahitian dance for 60 men and women sitting in four rows

BARYNYA—a lively Russian folk dance; also the name of several Russian folk dancing ensembles

BEGUINE—a rhythmic native dance of Martinique, famous here via the Cole Porter song Begin the Beguine

BLAIZE—a dance around a fire done in early Britain to mark the two solstices

BOSTON—the original name of the American Waltz, introduced in that city in 1834

BRANSIE—an old French follow-the-leader dance

CALATA—an Italian town dance done in triple time

CARINOSA—Philippine dance of love

CARIOCA—a version of the samba choreographed by Fred Astaire for a duet with Ginger Rogers in Flying Down to Rio

CEROC—a simplified version of modern jive dance

CHACONNE—a slow, solemn dance of Spanish or Moorish origin; also a popular social dance in 17-18th century France

CHULA—a traditional dance from Portugal and southern Brazil; also means beautiful in Spanish

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