Where did the baby name Zyshonne come from in 1998?

Silkk album "The Shocker" (1996)
Silkk album

The curious name Zyshonne appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 1998:

  • 2000: 17 baby boys named Zyshonne
  • 1999: 30 baby boys named Zyshonne [peak usage]
  • 1998: 26 baby boys named Zyshonne [debut]
  • 1997: unlisted
  • 1996: unlisted

In fact, Zyshonne was the top debut name for boys that year, and several variants (Zyshawn, Zyshon, and Zyshaun) likewise debuted in the late ’90s.

Where did it come from?

A tenacious typo, apparently.

New Orleans-based rapper Silkk The Shocker was at the height of his success during the late 1990s, when seven songs featuring Silkk reached Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. The most popular was “Let’s Ride” by Montell Jordan (feat. Master P and Silkk The Shocker), which ranked #2 for two weeks in April of 1998.

Initially, several media outlets reported that Silkk’s real name was Zyshonne Miller. He was called Zyshonne by Jet magazine in May of 1998, for instance, and by the Washington Post in September of 2000.

A little later, other media outlets began reporting that Miller’s first name was either Vyshonne or Vyshonn. (Jet switched to “Vyshonn” in early 2001.)

The V-versions of the name also debuted in the data, though they didn’t manage to catch on like Zyshonne had.

Boys named VyshonneBoys named Vyshonn
2002..
2001.8*
20007.
19995*.
1998..
*Debut

The media eventually stopped referring to Silkk as Zyshonne, but continued to refer to him as both Vyshonne and Vyshonn:

  • Vyshonne was used by Vibe in July of 2018, and is currently being used on the Spotify, AllMusic, and iHeartRadio websites.
  • Vyshonn was used by the New York Post in July of 2020, and is typically used in newspaper articles about Silkk’s legal troubles.
  • Both spellings have been used in articles at MTV.com and Billboard.com.

I still don’t know for sure which spelling is correct.

But I can tell you about Silkk The Shocker’s rap name.

In the early ’90s, when he was in the hip hop group TRU with his older brothers Percy (a.k.a. Master P) and Corey (C-Murder), he went by Silk because he “raps very smooth, just like silk.” A second k was thrown in to differentiate Silkk from the R&B group Silk, and “The Shocker” was added upon the release of Silkk’s first solo album, The Shocker (1996).

Sources:

What popularized the baby name Vonda in the mid-1960s?

Vonda Kay Van Dyke, Miss America 1965
Vonda Kay Van Dyke

According to the U.S. baby name data, Vonda saw a big spike in usage in mid-1960s:

  • 1967: 321 baby girls named Vonda [rank: 529th]
  • 1966: 664 baby girls named Vonda [rank: 349th]
  • 1965: 1,093 baby girls named Vonda [rank: 261st]
  • 1964: 602 baby girls named Vonda [rank: 399th]
  • 1963: 180 baby girls named Vonda [rank: 772nd]

Why?

Because of Vonda Kay Van Dyke, who was crowned Miss America 1965 at the conclusion of the televised pageant held in Atlantic City in September of 1964.

Van Dyke — who represented the state of Arizona — was the very first Miss America contestant to perform ventriloquism during the talent portion of the competition.

Van Dyke taught herself ventriloquism as a child and soon after found herself sharing billing with Wayne Newton. “Wayne and I did quite a few shows before he hit it big and moved on to Vegas,” she recalls.

Notably, Vonda Van Dyke is also the only Miss America to have been voted Miss Congeniality by the other delegates.

After her reign ended, Vonda enjoyed “an 18-year showbiz career, appearing with Jack Benny and Victor Borge.” She also married and had one child, a girl named Vandy.

Over the years, Vonda has met a several of her namesakes:

I ask them, “Where did you get your name?” One said, “Oh, it’s so embarrassing. I got it from a Miss America.” I stuck out my hand and said, “How do you do?”

What are your thoughts on the name Vonda?

Sources:

Image: Adapted from Miss America of 1965 Vonda Kay Van Dyke at a fabric store in Los Angeles, Calif. by Los Angeles Times under CC BY 4.0.

Where did the baby name Moesha come from in 1996?

The character Moesha Mitchell (played by Brandy Norwood) from the TV series "Moesha" (1996-2001)
Moesha from “Moesha”

The name Moesha first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1996 with a whopping 426 baby girls:

  • 1998: 122 baby girls named Moesha
  • 1997: 211 baby girls named Moesha [rank: 945th]
  • 1996: 426 baby girls named Moesha [rank: 548th] – debut & peak usage
  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: unlisted

It was easily the highest-debuting name of the year. In fact, it currently ranks third on the list of highest-debuting girl names of all time!

The spelling Moeisha also debuted in 1996, as did the variant forms Moeshia and Oesha.

What made the name Moesha so trendy in the mid-1990s?

The TV sitcom Moesha (pronounced moh-EE-shah), which began airing in January of 1996.

The show’s protagonist was “hip, smart and opinionated” African-American teenager Moesha Mitchell.

At the start of the series, Moesha lived in a middle-class Los Angeles neighborhood with her dad, her little brother Myles, and her new stepmom — who also happened to be a teacher at her high school. Her friends included Kim and Hakeem, and she was secretly dating a boy named Ohagi. (Ohagi, pronounced oh-HAH-jee, was a one-hit wonder in the data in 1996.)

The name of the sitcom’s main character was chosen by Sara Finney, one of Moesha‘s three co-creators. Finney, who was inspired in part by name of her niece Tiesha, explained:

We wanted a name that reflected the fact [that] a lot of African-American girls born in the 1970s and 1980s have this ‘esha’ sound at the end of their names.

The actress who portrayed Moesha was none other than Brandy Norwood — better known as mononymous R&B singer Brandy. She also sang the show’s theme song, of course.

By the time the sitcom premiered, Brandy had already scored three top-ten hits: “I Wanna Be Down,” “Baby,” and “Brokenhearted” (a duet with Wanyá Morris of Boyz II Men). Her early success on the charts accounts for the uptick in usage of the baby name Brandy in 1995.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Moesha?

Sources:

Image: Screenshot of Moesha

Where did the baby name Vendela come from in 1993?

Fashion model Vendela Kirsebom
Vendela

The rare baby name Vendela both debuted and saw peak usage in the U.S. in 1993:

  • 1995: 7 baby girls named Vendela
  • 1994: 7 baby girls named Vendela
  • 1993: 9 baby girls named Vendela [debut]
  • 1992: unlisted
  • 1991: unlisted

Why?

Because of supermodel Vendela (pronounced VEHN-deh-lah) — born Vendela Kirsebom in Sweden in 1967.

After modeling in Europe for several years, she relocated to New York City to become “the face” of American cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden in 1989.

Though she was often featured in advertisements and on magazine covers, her name didn’t pop up in the U.S. baby name data until she became a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covergirl in early 1993. Importantly, her name was also on the cover:

Vendela name on the cover of Sports Illustrated (Feb. 1993)
Vendela’s name

Speaking with Glamour magazine in the late ’80s about her name, she said:

I’ve never met anybody else with my first name. It’s old-fashioned and people don’t use it much anymore. When I was younger I didn’t like it because everyone always had to ask again, “What was your name?” Now I like that it’s different.

The name Vendela is a Swedish feminine form of the Germanic name Wendel, which was derived from a Germanic word referring to the Vandals (an ancient Germanic tribe).

What are your thoughts on the name Vendela?

Sources:

Images: Clippings from the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine (22 Feb. 1993)