Where did the baby name Zhane come from in 1993?

The Zhané album "Pronounced Jah-Nay" (1994)
Zhané album

The name Zhane first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1993. It saw peak usage the very next year:

  • 1995: 203 baby girls named Zhane [rank: 934th]
  • 1994: 391 baby girls named Zhane [rank: 584th]
  • 1993: 69 baby girls named Zhane [debut]
  • 1992: unlisted
  • 1991: unlisted

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Zhane in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Zhane

The sudden trendiness of Zhane gave boosts to similar names (like Zana) and produced a crop of sound-alike names, such as…


It also inspired parents to create Zhane-based names, including Dazhane, Dezhane, Azhane, Daizhane, Tazhane, Auzhane, Dayzhane, Razhane, Ajhane, Dezhanae, Dejhanae, Zhania, and Zhanaya.

So, what was influencing all of these names?

R&B duo Zhané (pronounced zhah-NAY), made up of vocalists Jean Norris and Renée Neufville.

Zhané’s biggest hit, the catchy “Hey, Mr. D.J.,” was released in August of 1993 and reached #6 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Their next-biggest hit, “Groove Thang,” came out early the following year.

Both songs were included on the duo’s 1994 debut album, the cleverly titled Pronounced Jah-Nay.

So how did the two singers — who met while attending Temple University in Philadelphia in the early 1990s — come up with the name “Zhane”? Here’s what Norris told Soul Train about a decade ago:

For our name, Renée had the idea of using the French pronunciation of our names Jean and Renée, which sounded like “Jahnay”. We added a Z for a little flavor and we came up with Zhané.

What are your thoughts on the name Zhane?


P.S. The duo’s success may have had an influence on the similar-sounding name Dijonnaise as well…

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Your email address will not be published.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.