Where did the baby name Shalawn come from in 1974?

Twins Shalawn and Seandra Williams (in the lap of their mother, Nancy)
Shalawn and Seandra Williams

The name Shalawn debuted very impressively in the U.S. baby name data in 1974. It was the top girl-name debut of the year, and is currently tied for 45th-highest girl name debut of all time.

Shalawn’s arrival is also linked to the reappearance of a somewhat similar name, Seandra, in the data:

Girls named ShalawnGirls named Seandra
*Debut, †Peak usage

So where did these two names come from?

A pair of identical twin girls!

Twins Shalawn and Seandra were born to O’Jays singer Walter Williams and his wife Nancy in early 1974. (This was about a year after the O’Jays song “Love Train” [vid] hit #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.)

Both Billboard and Jet magazines mentioned the twins in April, soon after they were born.

Jet followed up in June with a photo of the twins sitting on their mother’s lap. The caption noted that their nicknames were “Lovie” and “Dovie,” and that they had an older sister named Dawn.

I don’t know how Walter and Nancy came up with the twins’ names, but they seem to be elaborated forms of the male names Shawn and Sean (which are essentially the same name, just spelled differently).

What are your thoughts on the names Shalawn and Seandra? Which one do you prefer?


Image: © 1974 Ebony

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