The unique name Cymande has shown up in the U.S. baby name data just once so far, in the early 1970s:
- 1975: unlisted
- 1974: unlisted
- 1973: 9 baby boys named Cymande [debut]
- 1972: unlisted
- 1971: unlisted
Because of the influence of eclectic British funk band Cymande, made up of nine Caribbean-born, London-based musicians. The band “weld[ed] together the diverse strands of reggae and Rastafarian rhythms with funk, soul, R&B, jazz, rock, African music and West Indian folk.”
Their first album, the self-titled Cymande (1972), featured their biggest single: “The Message,” which reached 48th on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in March of 1973.
So where did the name “Cymande” come from?
Many sources repeat the claim that it was derived from a Calypso word meaning “dove” (the band’s emblem). That’s not quite the story, though. Two of the band members discussed the origin of the name with Rolling Stone in 2016:
[Steve] Scipio: The dove represents peace and love and for us, with our Caribbean heritage, it’s also connected with a very popular calypso song [“Dove and Pigeon”] that had a dove as a central character.
[Patrick] Paterson: The hook was “coo-coo-coo-coo-fan-cy-mandy.”
Scipio: “Fan-cy-mandy!” That’s where we got the name, Cymande from.
The song “Dove and Pigeon” [vid] was written by Tobagonian musician Lord Nelson and released in 1963. The line they’re referencing is hard to make out (one music blogger transcribed it “coo coo coo-coo bansimande”), but the last three syllables sound like see-mahn-dee.
At the start of the 1974 Cymande song “Promised Heights” [vid], one of the band members pronounces the band name sih-mahn-day (roughly).
What are your thoughts on the name Cymande?
Sources: Cymande, London’s Greatest Funk Band, on Return to Stage, Interview: British Funk Icons Cymande, Cymande “The Message” Chart History – Billboard, Dove and Pigeon (song) – Guanaguanare: The Laughing Gull