What brought the baby name Vandella back in 1964?

The Martha and the Vandellas album "Heat Wave" (1963).
Martha and the Vandellas album

The rare name Vandella bounced in and out of the U.S. baby name data throughout the 20th century. It’s longest stint in the data occurred in the mid-1960s:

  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: 9 baby girls named Vandella
  • 1966: 6 baby girls named Vandella
  • 1965: 5 baby girls named Vandella
  • 1964: 6 baby girls named Vandella
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted


Because of the influence of Martha and the Vandellas.

The popular Motown act was made up of a trio of female vocalists: Martha Reeves, Rosalind Ashford, and Annette Beard.

They put out dozens of singles from the early 1960s to the early 1970s. Their biggest hit, “Dancing in the Street” (1964), peaked at #2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Five of their other songs — including “Nowhere to Run” (1965), and Grammy-nominated “Heat Wave” (1963) — also reached the top 10.

So how did the group get its name?

According to Rosalind Ashford, Berry Gordy — the founder of Motown Records — asked the women to come up with a new name for themselves before he signed them to Motown’s Gordy imprint in 1962. (Previously, they had gone by “The Del-Phis” and “The Vels.”)

We were in one little room. So he said, “I’m going to give you a half an hour to come up with a name. If you can’t come up with a name, whatever I think of or whatever it is, that’s what it’s going to be.” We did not come up with a name, so the next thing we know, he called down, he said, “I’ve got a name for your group and it’s going to be Vandellas,” pure and simple.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Vandella? Would you use it?

Sources: Martha and the Vandellas – Wikipedia, Rosalind Ashford Holmes – The History Makers, SSA

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