The baby name Erykah saw its highest-ever usage in 1997 — the same year it first appeared in the U.S. baby name data:
- 1999: 130 baby girls named Erykah
- 1998: 276 baby girls named Erykah [rank: 780th]
- 1997: 279 baby girls named Erykah [rank: 757th] [debut]
- 1996: unlisted
- 1995: unlisted
It was the top debut name of the year. Not only that, but it also managed to rank inside the girls’ top 1,000 both that year and the next.
Here’s a visual:
What was influencing all these names?
Neo-soul singer-songwriter Erykah Badu.
Her debut single “On & On” (1996) peaked at #12 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in early 1997. It went on to win the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance the following year.
Her debut studio album, Baduizm (1997), also won a Grammy.
Badu was born Erica Wright in Texas in 1971. She began going by the name “Erykah Badu” as a teenager.
She altered the spelling of her first name to incorporate the Egyptian term kah, which she defined as “inner self.” (In ancient Egypt, the ka, or “life force,” was one of the three elements of the soul.)
And her new surname? “Badu comes from a jazz riff that I sing: ba-du, ba-du…,” she told English television host Julian “Jools” Holland in June of 1997.
What are your thoughts on the name Erykah? How about Erica? (What’s your preferred spelling of the name?)
- Erykah Badu – Wikipedia
- Erykah Badu – Chart History – Billboard
- Waldron, Clarence. “Erykah Badu.” Jet 8 Jan. 2001: 60-64.
- Waldron, Clarence. “Erykah Badu.” Jet 3 Mar. 2008: 56-61.
- Soul – Egyptian Civilization – Canadian Museum of History
P.S. Erykah’s three children — one son and two daughters — are named Seven Sirius (b. 1997), Puma Sabti (b. 2004), and Mars Merkaba (b. 2009).