Names Searched Right Now:

Category: musician names

gwendolyn-brooks

This year in celebration of Black History Month we turn for naming inspiration to the cultural heroines of the Harlem Renaissance.  These women—novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors and musicians– all played significant roles in the movement that flourished from the end of World War I through the mid-1930s, during which a group of writers and other artists fostered an intellectual blossoming that was instrumental in forging a new black cultural identity.

The talented women listed below, some better known than others, would all provide great namesakes and role models for any child.

A’LELIA Walker—an African-American businesswoman who was an important patron of the artists of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.

ALICE Dunbar-Nelson — Journalist, poet, activist and prominent Harlem Renaissance figure.

ANGELINA Weld Grimké—Harlem Renaissance writer, one of the first black women to have a play performed in public.

ANITA Scott Coleman—Though born in Mexico and later a resident of the Southwest, Coleman published many short stories reflecting the themes of the Harlem Renaissance.

ARIEL Williams—a teacher, musician and published poet.

AUGUSTA Savage—a sculptor known for her bronze busts of Frederick Douglass, W. C. Handy, James Weldon Johnson and other prominent African Americans.

CLARISSA Scott Delaney—onetime secretary to Booker T. Washington, she was a poet whose subjects included Pan-Africanism and bi-racialism.

DOROTHY WestHarlem Renaissance novelist and short story writer, best known for her novel The Living is Easy, about an upscale black family. (shown at right)

EULALIE Spence—an actress, teacher and playwright during the Harlem Renaissance.

GEORGIA Douglas Johnson—a prolific poet and playwright whose Washington DC home was open to the leading black artists of the day, including Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen.

GWENDOLYN Brooks was the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize, for Poetry in 1950

HELENE Johnson—a Harlem Renaissance poet, cousin of Dorothy West; one of her innovative poems, ‘Bottled,’ appeared in the May 1927 Vanity Fair.

JESSIE Redmon Fauset—called by Langston Hughes a “mid-wife” of African-American literature, she was the literary editor of Crisis magazine and was the first black woman to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

LOIS Mailou Jones—a prize-winning artist who had a long and influential career, and whose work is represented in many major museums, including New York’s Metropolitan.

MARITA Bonner, whose writing dealt with issues of race, gender and class.

NELLA Larsen—a novelist who was the first African-American woman to win a Guggenheim fellowship for creative writing.

REGINA Anderson, New York City librarian who was one of three women to establish a salon for artists and intellectuals; helped found the Negro Experimental Theatre

ZORA Neale Hurston—one of the best known figures of the movement—though she died in poverty—particularly recognized for her 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Also considered part of the Harlem Renaissance were such entertainers as:

BESSIE Smith

BILLIE Holiday

ELLA Fitzgerald

ETHEL Waters

IVIE Anderson

JOSEPHINE Baker

LENA Horne

LIL Hardin Armstrong,

MAMIE Smith

MARIAN Anderson.

NINA Mae McKinney

Read More

061211_garland_vmed_1p.widec

Guest blogger JILL BARNETT ponders the reinvented names that work magic on our lives….or do they?

I stood in front of the mirror backstage, proudly inspecting my makeup and blue and white gingham costume. Granted, I was in the midst of the most unfortunate awkward phase in the history of adolescence (my parents truly should have kept me indoors as a public service), but on that night, opening night of our middle school musical, The Wizard of Oz, I was too excited about my debut as Dorothy to notice that my skinny body and giant hair made me resemble a human Q-Tip. As I saw my gangly13-year-old reflection staring back at me, only one thing entered my mind: stardom!

I couldn’t deny that dress rehearsals hadn’t been pretty–the Stryofoam rainbow prop had a habit of crashing to the ground as I sang about troubles melting like lemon drops, and then there was that pesky issue of my ruby slippers shedding chunks of red glitter with every step I took, but in my mind, this elite middle school production of The Wizard of Oz (complete with an orchestra consisting of a pianist, a flatulent flautist, and a drummer who smelled like Velveeta cheese) was my launching pad to certain fame. Who cared that many of the Munchkins were taller than I was, that our Toto was missing in action, or that the stage crew had never gotten around to actually building a set? Not I! I was too busy daydreaming about seeing my name in lights.

WAIT! My name in lights? Jill Barnett in lights? I didn’t even like my given name for everyday use, and certainly had no desire to see it on the marquis of the Gershwin Theatre or to hear it read aloud upon the win of my first Tony Award. Nope, Jill Barnett simply wouldn’t do, and in my opinion, it had even less star quality than a name like Frances Ethel Gumm, who happened to be my favorite actress and singer.

Read More

colette2

We looked at trailblazing women in Part One of this blog yesterday—bold and courageous achievers who would prove worthy namesakes for a daughter.  Now we turn to those with major accomplishments in the arts—a varied mix of writers, artists, and musicians of the far and fairly recent  past—many of whom seem to have appropriately creative names—whether they were born with them or not.

Again, remember that the name’s the thing here—so sorry, Mary Cassatt and Elizabeth Barrett Browning–not this time.

WRITERS

AGATHA Christie

ANAIS Nin

APHRA Behn (also seen on the trailblazer list)

AYN Rand

CARSON (born Lula) McCullers

CHARLOTTE Bronte

COLETTE (born Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette)

Read More

African-American Heroine Names

20090126-bessie

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.

CHARLOTTE Ray — In 1872, became the first black female lawyer.

CLARA Stanton Jones — The American Library Association’s first African-American president.

CLEMENTINE Hunter — African-American painter, born in 1887.

CONSTANCE Baker Motley — First black female federal judge.

CORETTA Scott King — Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

DOROTHY West — Harlem Renaissance author.

ELLA Fitzgerald — Jazz singer.

FAYE Wattleton — Women’s rights activist.

GWENDOLYN Brooks — Poet and first African-American to win the Pulitzer.

HALLIE Quinn Brown — 19th century women’s rights activist.

HARRIET Tubman (born ARAMINTA Ross) — Escaped slave who became an abolitionist and Union spy; most famous for her work with the Underground Railroad.

IDA B. Wells-Barnett — Journalist and founding member of the NAACP.

JANE Bolin — Judge and community activist; first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School.

JOSEPHINE Baker — Politically-minded entertainer who was the Angelina Jolie of her day.

JUANITA Hall — First black actress to win a Tony Award.

KARA Walker — Artist best known for her silhouettes.

LENA Horne — Actress, singer, and civil rights activist.

LORRAINE Hansberry — Author of play “A Raisin in the Sun

MABEL Mercer — English singer.

MAHALIA Jackson — Gospel singer.

MARIAN Anderson — First black singer to perform with the Metropolitan Opera.

MARIAN Wright Edelman — Children’s Defense Fund founder.

NATALIE Hinderas — Composer and classical musician.

OCTAVIA Victoria Rogers Albert — Author and teacher.

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.

ROSETTA Tharpe — Jazz and blues singer and songwriter.

RUBY Dee — Actress.

SADIE Tanner Mossell Alexander — The first African-American Ph.D. in economics.

SARAH Vaughan — Jazz musician.

SHIRLEY Chisholm — First black woman elected to Congress.

SOJOURNER Truth — Abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

SUSIE King Taylor — Ex-slave who became Civil War nurse.

TONI Morrison — Novelist who won the Nobel Prize in literature.

VIOLETTE Neatley Anderson — In the 1920s, became the first black female attorney to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

WILMA Rudolph — Olympic runner.

ZENSI MIRIAM Makeba — African singer.

Read More

Mardi Gras Names: Baby Names from the Bayou

Illustration by Jennifer Mehlman at artchixstudio.com

Guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn of You Can’t Call It “It”, a writer, artist, and mother who lives in Brooklyn, New York, brings us this look at the jambalaya of names native to the Louisiana Bayou.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!

LADIES

Acadia- The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian

Adelaide

Alexandrine

Alma

Alzophine

Ambrosine

Ameline, Emeline

Arzilla

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

Beatrice

Belle

Berangere

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

Cezelia

Clotille

Delphine- While Delphine is a lovely and lilting name, Delphine LaLaurie was a famous socialite and sadist who tortured her slaves

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.

Dolucila

Elva

Ernestine

Eugenie- Napoleon‘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

Hiawatha- Another tale regaled by Longfellow, Hiawatha may not have been from the Bayou, but she had namesakes here

Ida

Josephine- Napoleon‘s (second) love

Leonie

Lougenia

Magnolia- The state flower of Louisiana

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

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

Maude

Maxzille

Melba

Mellette

Minerva, Minnie

Oatha

Odilia

Ola, Olla Mae, Olima

Onezie, Onezime

Ophelia

Philomine, Philonese

Rosella

Sabine- The Sabine River runs through Louisiana

Sophronia

Tammany- Parish north of New Orleans

Ysabeau

Zeline

Zenobia (also spotted as Senobia)

Zerilda

GENTS

Alphonse

Amedee

Amos- Amos Moses is a song by Jerry Reed about a fictional one armed alligator-hunting Cajun man

Armand

Auguste, Augustin

Bartheleme

Beau, Beauregard- Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was the most famous Civil War soldier from New Orleans and fought in the Battle of Shiloh;  his ghost is said to roam the streets of New Orleans whispering “Shiloh“, which means “place of peace”

Bernard- Parish east of New Orleans

Bertrand

Buford

Charles- Geographically, Charles is everywhere, from a street in NOLA to the western city of Lake Charles to St. Charles Parish in the east

Cleophas

Clovis

Cornelius

Cyriaque

Dagobert- Pere Dagobert was a well-respected 18th century priest who is still said to be heard singing “Kyrie” while keeping a watchful eye over the city of New Orleans.

Dempsey

Eloi

Gaston

Gilbert

Gustave –2008′s Hurricane Gustav (yes, that’s the way the storm was spelled) may have dampened enthusiasm for this name.

Hippolyte

Homer

Jacques

Jean-BaptisteJean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded Nouvelle-Orleans in 1718

Jules, Julius

Landry- St. Landry Parish is home to many a Cajun

Leon, Leontel

LeRoy- Leroy is originally from “le roi” or, “the king”

Louis -Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima are both Louisiana natives

Octave

Otis

Napoleon

Philippe- The city was named for Philippe II, Duc d’Orleans

PierrePierre Augustin Charles Bourguignon Derbigny was among Louisiana‘s Creole governors

Remy

Rene

Rex

Theodore, Theodule, Theophile, Theophilus

Virgil


Read More