What turned Eldra into a boy name (briefly) in the 1980s?

DeBarge's album "In a Special Way" (1983)
DeBarge album

The uncommon name Eldra, after popping up a few times in the U.S. baby name data as a girl name during the first half of the 20th century, returned as a boy name for a four-year run in the middle of the 1980s:

  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: 7 baby boys named Eldra
  • 1986: 6 baby boys named Eldra
  • 1985: 17 baby boys named Eldra
  • 1984: 17 baby boys named Eldra [debut]
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: unlisted

Not only that, but Eldra was the highest boy-name debut of 1984.

What was the influence here?

Eldra Patrick DeBarge — often known as “El DeBarge” — lead singer of the ’80s group DeBarge (which consisted of siblings from the DeBarge family of Michigan).

The group’s songs started appearing on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in mid-1983. Their most successful single was the upbeat “Rhythm of the Night” (vid), which peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 in April of 1985.

Eldra "El" DeBarge in the music video for the song "Rhythm of the Night" (1985).
El DeBarge in “Rhythm of the Night” music video

El DeBarge left the group in 1986 to pursue a solo career. His own most successful single, “Who’s Johnny” (featured in the movie Short Circuit), also peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 (in July of 1986).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Eldra? Do you like it better as a male name or as a female name?

Sources: El DeBarge – Wikipedia, DeBarge – Billboard

One thought on “What turned Eldra into a boy name (briefly) in the 1980s?

  1. I liked that band when I was in elementary school, but I don’t like the name Eldra. Definitely sounds more like a girls’ name. I got my brother the 45 for their song “Who’s Holding Donna Now” for Christmas the year it came out.

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