Where did the baby name Kelis come from in 2000?

Kelis' album "Kaleidoscope" (late 1999).
Kelis album

The name Kelis debuted very impressively in the U.S. baby name data in the year 2000:

  • 2003 88 baby girls named Kelis
  • 2002 71 baby girls named Kelis
  • 2001 54 baby girls named Kelis
  • 2000: 108 baby girls (and 6 baby boys) named Kelis [debut]
  • 1999: unlisted
  • 1998: unlisted

Not only was it the top debut name of the year, but it currently ranks 26th (between Cotina and Izamar) on the list of top girl-name debuts of all time.

It also gave a boost to the similar names Kelise, Kalis, Kalise, and Calise.

So, where did Kelis come from?

Mononymous singer-songwriter Kelis (pronounced kuh-LEESE).

Her first album, Kaleidoscope, was released in late 1999. The album’s most successful single, “Caught Out There,” reached Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart (peaking at #54 in early 2000).

Perhaps more importantly, though, Kelis’ vocals were featured in the song “Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard (who, like Raekwon, was a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan). She sang that memorable hook: “Hey, Dirty / Baby, I got your money / Don’t you worry, I said hey / Baby, I got your money.”

Here’s Kelis in the “Got Your Money” music video (which borrows heavily from the movie Dolemite, incidentally):

Kelis in the music video for ODB's song "Got Your Money" (1999).
Kelis (center) in ODB music video

The name saw spikes in usage in both 2004 and 2007. (It reached the girls’ top 1,000 for the first and only time in 2007, in fact.) These high points line up with notable moments in Kelis’ career:

  • Her biggest single, “Milkshake” (2003) reached #3 on the Hot 100 and was nominated for a Grammy. (It was written and produced by The Neptunes, one-half of which is Pharrell Williams.)
  • Her second-biggest single, “Bossy” (2006), reached #16 on the Hot 100. It was the lead single from the album Kelis Was Here (2006), which earned her a second Grammy nomination.

The singer’s full name is Kelis Rogers. Her parents, Kenneth and Eveliss, created her first name by combining their own names.

What are your thoughts on the name Kelis?

Sources: Kelis – Billboard, Kelis – Wikipedia, SSA

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