Sakeena: Jazz-Inspired Baby Name

blakey, sakeena, jazz, song, 1960The eye-catching name Sakeena debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1957:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 9 baby girls named Sakeena
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Sakeena [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

Where does it come from? I’ve traced it to jazz drummer/bandleader Arthur “Art” Blakey. He and his second wife, Diana, welcomed a baby girl named Sakeena in early 1957. The same year, Art Blakey and his band The Jazz Messengers put out at least two songs with the name Sakeena in the title:

  • “Sakeena” on the album Cu-Bop (1957), and
  • “Sweet Sakeena” on the album Hard Drive (1957).

The news of baby Sakeena’s birth didn’t seem to garner any attention, so it was either one or both of these songs that boosted the name Sakeena onto the charts.

It fell back off the charts the next year, but reappeared in 1961, after the release of a third song with Sakeena in the title: “Sakeena’s Vision” on the Art Blakey album The Big Beat (1960). This song was written by saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter. Here’s what a biography of Shorter said about the genesis of “Sakeena’s Vision”:

Sakeena was an unusual two-year-old who had developed the precocious habit of sizing up visitors like a hanging judge the moment they stepped into the Blakey house. “If they were cool, Sakeena was cool,” Wayne said. “If they weren’t, then she wasn’t either. Art said, ‘Sakeena’s hip to them all,’ and let the child have the run of the house.” The toddler made an impression on Wayne, enough to inspire a composition with a difficult, penetrating melody line.

Do you like the name Sakeena?

P.S. Art had quite a few children in total, but the only other child he had with Diana was a son named Gamal, born in 1959.

Sources:

  • Gourse, Leslie. Art Blakey: Jazz Messenger. New York: Schirmer Trade Books, 2002.
  • Mercer, Michelle. Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter. New York: Tarcher/Penguin Books, 2007.

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