The French name Desiree was first popularized in the U.S. by the 1954 movie Désirée, which told the story of Désirée Clary, the one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte who later became the queen of Sweden and Norway.
Several years later, during the doo-wop craze of the ’50s, five Harlem-based teens formed a vocal group called The Charts — intentionally naming themselves after the Billboard‘s hits list in the hope that they would one day see themselves on the charts.
Despite being booed off stage during an Apollo Theater amateur night, the quintet got signed to a label and ended up recording several songs before disbanding in 1958.
The only Charts song to actually reach the charts? “Deserie,” a “huge East Coast doo wop cult classic” that appeared on Billboard‘s pop chart four times during the second half of 1957, peaking at 88th.
Here’s a video featuring the song:
But the Charts actually charted twice, because the baby name Deserie debuted on the U.S. baby name charts the very same year:
- 1960: 15 baby girls named Deserie
- 1959: 8 baby girls named Deserie
- 1958: 7 baby girls named Deserie
- 1957: 13 baby girls named Deserie [debut]
- 1956: unlisted
Though the spelling and pronunciation aren’t quite the same, Deserie (deh-zə-REE) was no doubt inspired by then-trendy Desiree (deh-zi-RAY), which can be traced back to the Latin word for “desired,” desideratum.
Which name do you like better, Desiree or Deserie?
- Warner, Jay. American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006.
- Marv Goldberg’s R&B Notebooks – The Charts