The Coming of Kalimba

kalimba, baby name, music, 1970s

The curious name Kalimba has popped up in the U.S. baby name data just twice, the first time in 1974:

  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted
  • 1974: 7 baby girls named Kalimba
  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: unlisted

Where did it come from?

An Earth, Wind & Fire song called “Kalimba Story,” which was included on the 1974 album Open Our Eyes. The song was released as a single the same year, and in August peaked on two different Billboard charts: the Hot 100 (at #55) and R&B/Hip-Hop (at #6).

From the refrain:

Kalimba, ooh kalimba
Play me a tune
Kalimba, ooh kalimba
I’m glad I found you

In the song, “Kalimba” doesn’t refer to a person — it refers to a musical instrument. A kalimba is an African thumb piano played by plucking metal tines attached to a wooden board. One contemporary reviewer described the instrument as “a hand-held whatzit that looks like a TV remote control device and sounds like an electric piano.”

Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White favored the kalimba and featured it in multiple songs. In the liner notes to EWF’s Eternal Dance compilation album, White explained that “the kalimba represented my link to Africa. It was my way of taking part of that culture and spreading it all over the world.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Kalimba?

Sources:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.