What gave the baby name Shanice a boost (multiple times)?

Shanice's self-titled album (1999)
Shanice album

During the late 20th century, the name Shanice saw four distinct spikes in usage: two prominent ones in 1988 and 1992, flanked by two smaller ones in 1985 and 1999.

Here’s some of the data:

  • 1994: 782 baby girls named Shanice [rank: 342nd]
  • 1993: 1,345 baby girls named Shanice [rank: 213th]
  • 1992: 1,859 baby girls named Shanice [rank: 167th]
  • 1991: 304 baby girls named Shanice [rank: 700th]
  • 1990: 289 baby girls named Shanice [rank: 725th]
  • 1989: 537 baby girls named Shanice [rank: 452nd]
  • 1988: 938 baby girls named Shanice [rank: 270th]
  • 1987: 140 baby girls named Shanice
  • 1986: 39 baby girls named Shanice

And here’s a visual:

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

All four increases can be attributed to the same thing: mononymous R&B singer Shanice.

The initial uptick, in 1985, corresponds to her appearances on the TV talent show Star Search in 1984. As 11-year-old Shanice Wilson, she competed — at least twice — in the junior female vocalist category. Her performances earned her $5,000 in prize money. (She later said, “When I got that $5,000, you would’ve thought we hit the lottery.”)

Shanice Wilson on "Star Search" in 1984.
Shanice Wilson on “Star Search”

She also appeared on more than a dozen episodes of Kids Incorporated in 1984, but, surprisingly, she didn’t sing on the show — she was one of the backup dancers.

In 1988, following the release of Shanice’s initial singles the previous year, the name jumped into the girls’ top 1,000 for the first time ever. Shanice’s most successful early song, “(Baby Tell Me) Can You Dance,” reached #50 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in December of 1987.

The name’s highest-ever usage, in 1992, was fueled by Shanice’s biggest hit, “I Love Your Smile” (1991). The upbeat song was produced by Narada Michael Walden and stayed stuck at #2 on the charts for three weeks straight in February of 1992. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance” category, but lost to a song by Chaka Khan.

Here’s the music video:

The name’s peak usage was also bolstered by the 1992 songs “Silent Prayer” and “Saving Forever for You,” which topped out at #31 and #4 (respectively) on the Hot 100.

The final uptick, in 1999, corresponds to Shanice’s last Hot 100-charting song, “When I Close My Eyes,” which climbed to #12 in April of 1999.

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


3 thoughts on “What gave the baby name Shanice a boost (multiple times)?

  1. In NL we only had the one huge increase in 1992, when 1 in a 1,000 newborn girls was called Shanice. Parents completely stopped naming their daughters Shanice only 10 years later.

    One of them became famous in her own right: soccer player Shanice Janice van de Sanden (Utrecht, 1992), who now plays in Liverpool, UK. I have no idea why her middle name is so similar to her first name: maybe both grandmothers were called Johanna and she was named after both? Van de Sanden and her girlfriend Tatjana became parents a couple of days ago; they named their daughter Haló. Very unique, in the Netherlands at least.

    Singer Shanice’s own children with Flex Alexander (b. Mark Alexander Knox): daughter Imani Shekinah (b. 2001) and son Elijah Alexander (b. 2004). Pretty much what we’d expect from early 2000’s children :)

  2. Thank you for checking the Netherlands’ data!

    Shanice and Janice are so curiously close — there has to be a story there.

    Flex ended up influencing the U.S. data as well — though not until years later, when the couple’s reality TV show Flex & Shanice started airing in the mid-2010s. (Here’s the graph for Flex.)

  3. Shanice is a not-uncommon name where I am from (southern USA). I have encountered it on a few women. It also has a lot of spelling variants (Chanice, Shanise, Shaniece, etc) but Shanice is the most appealing one to me.

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