What’s in a name: 10 successful people with unusual names

I grew up in a family of three siblings and strongly disliked my name. It was obviously non-traditional than most, and I thought it was stranger than the much simpler names chosen for my brother and sister. Later, I learned that my dad wanted to give me a unique name. But, little did he realize or he failed to remember that I had an older cousin whose name rhymed with mine. Her name is Lenika. Hint Hint: Can you guess my name? I vowed that I would never give my child a name that was unfamiliar and non-traditional.

However, during a conversation with my co-worker, I had a slight change of heart. We had a discussion about birth names, and their seemingly magical powers. Think about it. Some of the most successful and talented people in the world have odd names. I compiled a list of top names in music, sports and business. I think there’s some validity in the claim that your birth name can have power. #ibedamned

Madonna: a musical icon, American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. Often referred to as the “Queen of Pop,  she achieved gross popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in her songs and music videos.
Beyonce: She rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of the all-girl group, Destiny’s Child.  The group became one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time with over 60 million records sold. Throughout her career, she has sold over 100 million records as a solo artist making her one of the top selling music artists of all time.

And her sister,

Solange Knowles
Solange: Solange started in the music industry with several temporary stints with Destiny’s Child, before going solo. She released her first album at age 16 in 2002. Her latest album won a Grammy for Best R&B Performancec and in December 2016, she was ranked as the 100th most successful dance artist of all time.
Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck: Celebrity chef and restaurateur. He owns restaurants, catering services, cookbooks and a cooking product line.
LeBron James
LeBron James: Professional NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s also the all-time leading scorer for the Cavaliers. LeBron has won three NBA championships, four MVP awards and two Olympic gold medals.
Ima Hogg
Ima Hogg: She was known as “The First Lady of Texas”, an American philanthropist, patron and collector of the arts, and renowned in Texas during the 20th century. She successfully ran for a seat on the Houston School Board in 1943, where she worked to remove gender and race as criteria for determining pay and established art education programs for black students.
Omarosa Manigault
Omarosa:  She is the Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison on President Trump’s administration. Omarosa gained fame as a contestant on the Trump’s first season of The Apprentice. She later returned for the series sequel, Celebrity Apprentice.
Vivica A. Fox
Vivica: Actress, producer and television host. She began her career with roles on the daytime television soap operas, Days of Our Lives and Generations. She later moved to prime time starring opposite of Pattie LaBelle in Out All Night. She went to the big screen in two box office hits, Independence Day and Set It Off.
Learned Hand
Judge Learned Hand: A judge and judicial philosopher. Hand served on the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has been reportedly quoted more often by legal scholars and by the US Supreme Court than any other lower court judge.
Peerless Price
Peerless Price: A former NFL wide receiver who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the draft in 1999. Price also played for the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys.

Share your birth name and its meaning. My name is Danika - it means "morning star" in Denmark. The pronunciation is different but I'll take every bit of its magical
powers, all the same
. 🙂

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14 Replies to “What’s in a name: 10 successful people with unusual names”

  1. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of a name. I have nothing against unique names as long as they have meaning. It when someone names their child after their favorite brand of liquor that I give the side-eye. You made some great points in this article though. Thanks for provoking great thoughts!

  2. I too have an unusual name. I disliked it as a child because no one pronounced it correctly nevertheless spelled it correctly. I later learned it’s a family name and I’m the third generation to have it. So I gave my daughter the name also(LOL) but as her middle name.

  3. What an interesting perspective you have presented. My name is Ehite (a-hee-ta). It sounds like fajita. Just take out the f sound and there you go. It means my sister. I am named after an Ethiopian princess who my father met when he was about 6 years old. He said that she was the most beautiful Black woman he had ever seen in his life and he swore that day that if he ever had any daughters… his first born who bare that name… so here I am.

    I too began life embarrassed by may name, but as I matured I began to realize that their is power within a name. Now… you say magic… I really think it’s the power of being unique and different. My thinking is this… when you have such a great name… with a meaning behind it… especially when a father names his daughter… there is a power in that. It somehow makes you want to be an important person and live up to your name. it makes me unique and I love that! At least that is how I understand it and reflects in my life. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. By the way, your name is beautiful. It’s also admirable that you have a story behind your name. In my family, names are also recycled, upcycled…you get it. LOL. I may give my future child a piece of my name too.

  4. I believe in names that are unique and catchy carry a lot of power. I really enjoyed your post and the LBJ mention go Cavs.

  5. I believe there’s power in a name as well. Although I never gave much thought about unique names and superstardom. I love my name, althought growing up I hated it with a passion. As I grew older I learned to love it, and it was not common as well. Plus Toni Braxton made it much easier to love as well.

  6. My name is Candice, not sure on it’s meaning. I never looked it up. But I do know it’s in the Bible. Candace was Queen of Ethiopia. Sidenote my children both have unique names. My daughter is Saige, which means Wise. My son’s name is Saadjah, which means God’s helper.

  7. This is a very interesting viewpoint. While, Keisha was unusual until right before I was born – I think the variations of it are so clever and show not only creativity but freedom.

  8. My name is Michelle. I never even thought to look up the meaning, just looked and it means close to God, Gift from God. Hmm thats very interesting!!!

  9. I’m Arnya but really Anya. Anya comes from the ebo tribe in Nigeria, Anyauw. It means, one who has wisdom, the eye. Smiles!

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