Musician-Inspired Baby Names That Will Melt Your Heart

Exchanging playlists is passé. The best way of telling people about your taste in music is by going the mile to name your offspring after the icons you revere. Jokes aside, can there be a more ethereal eulogy for your musical idol than by attaching their foremost identity to that of a piece of your own heart? Musician-inspired baby names have emerged as a trend among parents, data shows (via HuffPost). The little Marleys or Whitneys tottering about in the world may not be immediately aware of the cosmic legacies that precede their titles, but someday they will — and one can best believe they'll be more than grateful for being named so!

"Past generations worried more about their child fitting in, but today's parents want their kids to stand out," author and baby-naming wiz Laura Wattenberg said (via Parents). Since the name is going to stick with your child as their most notable feature, Wattenberg suggests trying its suitability out in different contexts. Unlike parents who regretted naming their young 'uns after "Game of Thrones" characters (via PopCrush), you can rest assured about naming your baby after an iconic musician whose popularity has endured generations.


If you want to endow your baby with the power of earth-shaking femininity and individualism, then there's no name better than "Cher" to bless them with. The mononymic star, revered as the Goddess of Pop, stands apart in the music industry as a lone force with the brilliance of a six-decade-long career shining the spotlight on her. Per Rolling Stone, she was discovered at the age of only 16, going on to establish herself as a successful artist with hits like "You Better Sit Down Kids" and, of course, the formative "I Got You Babe" performed with her partner and one half of her entertainment act, Sonny Bono.

"I've always taken risks and never worried about what the world might think of me," is the mantra that has kept the multi-award-winning artist at the top of her game for years (via Time). Born Cherilyn Sarkisian, the singer is best known by her legendary diminutive "Cher," which is used to refer to someone beloved or dear (per Name Doctor). Ain't that sweet? The name draws from both French and Persian roots, its popularity peaking in America in the 1970s when Cher's did. From films to fashion and everything in between, Cher has explored the length and breadth of showbiz and turned much of everything she has touched into gold — gold as blinding as her trademark extravagance. What a legacy for your child to emulate! 

Bob Dylan

The centrality of Bob Dylan to the very purpose of music cannot be overstated. Venerated as one of the finest songwriters in history (via Life), Dylan is the defining symbol of social revolt that colored the freewheeling spirit of America's 1960s counterculture but transcends peacemaking efforts across time and borders. His literary genius has produced a wealth of prose for the better part of six decades, each folk lyric a more pertinent anthem of protest than the other. "They kind of write themselves and count on me to sing them," Dylan once said about his songs (per The New York Times). Dylan is, in essence, the living sound and symbol of revolution.

Legendary compositions — the likes of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and "Like A Rolling Stone" (which he considered his best work, per Rolling Stone) — have established Dylan's perennially sky-scraping status in music, which is equaled only by his reputation as a bard of significance. The Nobel Committee certified his place among an elite league of littérateurs and poets in 2016 (via Financial Review). He's no false prophet; that's for sure! According to Behind the Name, "Dylan" is a name of Welsh origin and holds deep associations with water and the seas — which is only fitting, given the oceanic depth of the rock laureate's poetry. This one's a titanic legacy to take on — don't think twice about naming your child Dylan! 

Janis Joplin

Few musicians could rival Janis Joplin's talent and spunk. The singer's short but thoroughly bold time in the industry was a master class in leaving behind a legacy that spoke of a life lived on one's own terms. One of the most successful and standout rockers of the 20th century — and the original matriarch of the "rock mama" class of musicians (per her website) — Joplin was a pathfinder for her female contemporaries and successors in music. Her distinctive, earthy sound articulated the spirit of the 1960s counterculture, of which she was an integral part. She believed, "Playing is just about feeling. ... It's just about letting yourself feel all those things you already have inside of you" (via NPR). 

Joplin's rebellion extended from challenging the social status quo to breaking gender norms and introducing a new kind of fiery presence to the stage. In clear terms, as expressed by her biographer, Joplin was a "sky-rocket chick" – her life was a handy rulebook on living big and fast (via the BBC). If you aspire to model your little one's life after lofty ideals of liberation and free spirit, then lose no time in endowing them with a title that takes after the "Bobby McGee" hitmaker. According to The Bump, "Janis" alludes to the lord's grace in Hebrew and is a gender-neutral name perfect for your little one. 

Miley Cyrus

You won't find a millennial soul, with even a faint inkling of music, who doesn't know Miley Cyrus. The biggest pop star of her generation, Cyrus has been a force to reckon with since her meteoric rise to fame in the 2000s, with her blonde alter ego Hannah Montana in tow. Her Disney show of the same name made her a teen icon at only 13 (per People). Thereon, Cyrus did all her growing up in the public eye, from the doe-eyed rocker churning out hits like "Party in the U.S.A." to the crop-haired rebel wilding on a wrecking ball. For years, she has commanded significant influence over the youth as an icon of defiance, with collaborators lauding her as a "brutally, blatantly honest" artist (via Forbes). 

The transformation of Cyrus' public persona has been dramatic (to put it subtly), with the exception of one thing: her million-watt smile. The singer's transcendent grin has been her steadiest, standout feature and, understandably, was the source of one of her childhood nicknames — "Smiley Miley" (via Britannica). Though her given name was Destiny Hope, "Smiley" gave way to her present name Miley, which is actually of African origin and means "vine" (per The Bump). Naturally, "Miley" has emerged as a popular name in the United States since the new millennium. A perfect title for your happy, smiley baby!

Dhani Harrison

When your father is George Harrison, you can be sure you'll end up with a name that assimilates the richest elements of the musical realm he occupied. The guitar legend, who formed one quarter of the Beatles (albeit as its quietest member), named his only son Dhani — an ode to his famed romance with Indian classical music. Although the Hindi word "dhani" means "rich" (per Nameberry), Harrison junior's title is born of slightly different origins. "Dha" and "ni," which are two of seven notes called swaras on the Indian classical music scale (via The Times of India), come together to form "dhani" with an extended intonation. Per Rekhta, "dhani" also alludes to a light green hue. A beautifully layered name to bless your baby with! 

Living in the shadow of a music monument's legacy can't be easy, but Harrison does it with a dignified elan that closely resembles George's. As does his face: "My dad used to say to me, 'You look more like me than I do,'" Harrison once recalled (via Daily Mail). Harrison was introduced to Indian melodies early in childhood, given the legendary Beatle's spiritual submergence in Hinduism (via The Guardian). Initially hesitant to follow in his father's footsteps, Harrison ultimately joined the family business, even scoring a Grammy during his short music career.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix strummed magic with his fingers. A guitar god, appropriately described as "the most gifted instrumentalist of all time" by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Hendrix was peerless in his skill on the six-string. An oft-cited piece of legend associated with Hendrix's nonpareil, industry-revolutionizing music ability famously pinpoints the moment Eric Clapton — a great rocker himself — heard him play for the first time, muttering: "You never told me he was that f***in' good" (via The Atlantic). An avant-garde rulebreaker, Hendrix transgressed the lines of admissible guitar sounds by pioneering new sounds that expanded the scope of rock — from experimenting with amplifier feedback to establishing the classic wah-wah effect (via The Economist). 

The naming of a chord after Hendrix — his signature 7#9 harmony laid out gloriously in the masterpiece "Purple Haze" — is perhaps the single most defining statement of his influence on rock jamming and is a feat no other contemporary has captured (per Fender). His volcanic impact on culture, which has traversed eras, has ensured the longtime popularity of "Hendrix" as a forename. Per BabyCentre, "Hendrix" is essentially a surname of German origin and holds references to royalty — ideal for naming your voodoo child ... er, little prince! 

David Bowie

Easily the artist who did the most to legitimize brilliantly excessive stage personas that paved the way for the Lady Gagas of the world to find their footing, David Bowie was a cultural spearhead. His otherworldliness mirrored that of Ziggy Stardust, that mythic alter ego he incepted to iterate the urgent message of hope (via Rolling Stone), in how Bowie heralded an experimental era of enigmatic glamor and sexual liberation in performance art. Of course, eccentricity — his middle name — was something he cherished: "If it's wearing a pink hat and a red nose, and it plays a guitar upside down, I will go and look at it," he once said (via Blank on Blank). 

The androgynous icon, true to his forever-metamorphosing nature, didn't just cast a spell in the world of showmanship and rock. The multi-Grammy winner's theatrical endeavors took him all the way to the silver screen, with titles like "The Man Who Fell to Earth" and "Labyrinth" adding exponentially to his zany legend (via AARP). According to Nameberry, the name "Bowie" is of Scottish origin and means "blond." Needless to say, "Bowie" — which, by the way, was another chameleonic identity the singer chose for himself — is a popular choice among parents wanting to imbue their children (blond or not) with all the charisma associated with this name of mononymic fame. Join the club!

Aretha Franklin

No musician's light is as brilliant and untouchable as Aretha Franklin's. Revered comprehensively and thoroughly as the Queen of Soul, Franklin was the undisputed voice of America in the 20th century (via Slate). The earth-shaking glory she earned throughout her six-decade-long career was rooted in her childhood when her prodigal musical inclinations began to show through gospel singing. She strode from milestone to milestone, reaching the transformative one in 1967, when the finest segment of her genius career was set in motion and her status as a timeless icon was established. 

With her revolutionary recordings of "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)," and "Chain of Fools," Franklin blazed a trail in the industry and simultaneously strengthened the cause of Black people, especially women, during the civil rights movement (via Feminist Majority Foundation). Her phenomenal mezzo-soprano range touched notes straight in heaven — which explains why in its 2008 ranking of Franklin as the greatest singer of all time, Rolling Stone called her "a gift from God." The name "Aretha" figures mononymously as an identifier for the music icon and is a mighty title to attach to your baby. Per, the name harks to the powerful Greek god Arēs and alludes to virtue and excellence — qualities we're sure your child will live up to! 

Bob Marley

Music without Marley is like life without meaning. In the realm of 20th-century music studded with icons, each more genius than the last, Bob Marley was the brightest shooting star. His storied legacy covers the scope of revolutionary change that spans the face of reggae to the world itself (via Rolling Stone). The most cited segment of Marley's life began in Jamaica's Trench Town, where the Rasta legend's first musical stirrings materialized and showed the way for his global glory, immortalized through hits like "I Shot the Sheriff," "No Woman, No Cry," and "Is This Love." Central to Marley's myth was his status as a prophet of peace, the gamut of his lyric seeped in revolt against unequal systems and pursuit of love. As best put by The New Yorker, "He became a way of seeing the world."

His status as a political-cultural phenomenon still reverberates as the ultimate symbol of justice-seeking in fulfillment of his own grand philosophy: "Musicians must be spokespeople for the oppressed masses." Bestowing your child with the name "Marley" is the foremost blessing you can give them to set them on the path to righteous greatness. According to The Bump, "Marley" is a name of English origin with deep elemental ties to wood, meadows, and pleasantness at large. Though its historic use relates it to an Anglo-Saxon surname (via Oh Baby! Names), "Marley" emerged as a popular forename through the reggae legend's stature, which, to this date, remains towering, singular, and inspiring!


A name whose appeal has persisted through centuries, "Aaliyah" is a title of considerable significance in the Hebrew and Arabic languages, used to refer to a force rising high or the one who is exalted (via FirstCry). The magnitude of greatness associated with this name is best reflected in the music world through the legendary star of R&B, Aaliyah. As attested to on her website, Aaliyah's life and career personified the heavenly qualities her name bore. She was a true trailblazer for contemporary music, her lasting influence imprinted in the genre she ruled over with hits like "We Need A Resolution" and "If Your Girl Only Knew." 

Aaliyah's bright public persona was compounded by her voguish wardrobe and trendsetting hairstyles, which were the definition of millennial cool in the '90s (via HuffPost). Think midriff-baring tops and baggy cargos! She also brought her trademark oomph to the big screen with a smashing debut in "Romeo Must Die." Aaliyah is acknowledged for her contribution to creating the ultimate blueprint for R&B pop, the spectrum of her inspiration sweeping a breadth of performers, from Rihanna to Ciara (via Billboard). Side note: Drake even has tattoos of her on his body!

Whitney Houston

"Whitney" is one of the sweetest and most powerful names you can give your baby! An English name meaning "white island" (via The Bump), the name "Whitney" is an evergreen title associated with the most idyllic elements of nature. Its olden roots relate it to the River Wye which flows through the United Kingdom between England and Wales flanked by scenic moors and pastures (via Britannica). The only other factor that can match the picturesque splendor behind this name is its famous association with one of the music world's most notable icons, Whitney Houston. 

An artist beyond compare, Houston is hailed as the "greatest singer of her generation," as observed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With the powerful mezzo-soprano voice that she possessed, success for her was only natural. Houston was already a bestselling star with original hits like "How Will I Know" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go," before covering the evergreen "I Will Always Love You," the ballad she came to be eternally associated with. With six Grammys to her name, Houston was a pioneering force in music and a towering woman to be inspired by!

John Lennon

The name "Lennon" hardly needs an introduction. Its associations are so powerfully singular that, even in the absence of a forename, the evocation of this title conjures up a mop-topped, bespectacled maverick with a guitar in hand. John Lennon, both solo and as the "smart Beatle" in his legendary quartet, is universally regarded as one of the most important figures in rock, his influence comparable to the likes of Bob Dylan (via Forbes). His oeuvre is impossible to encapsulate in a few short words, but ranged significantly from experimental sounds like "Strawberry Fields Forever" to his peacemaking magnum opus "Imagine." To that effect, Lennon was as revered as a musician as he was as a reformer, his life a running overlap of the personal and political (via Rolling Stone).

"I never let myself believe that an artist can 'run dry,'" Lennon, whose career was at a continuous peak, once said (via New York magazine). What a gigantic legacy to take after! "Lennon" is an interpretation of an Irish surname, which in its original Gaelic form makes references to a lover's son (via Oh Baby! Names). Providently enough, the etymology of "Lennon" also relates it to a blackbird, tying it infinitely to the Beatles' 1968 masterpiece of the same name. "Lennon" reportedly enjoys great favor in the United States and Scotland but, given the rock god's global appeal, is a great name for little dreamers everywhere!

Cyndi Lauper

The poster girl of musical whimsy for over four decades, Cyndi Lauper is an institution in her own right. Churning out Billboard chart-topping hits and picking up Grammys, of which she has two, are only cogs in the wheel for the icon. Lauper's impact as an influential pop figure easily transcends music, seeping into the cultural sphere where her contribution to Queer and female representation is hailed as iconic. The Grammys have labeled her "the feminist pop star we need" — the standout exhibit, of course, being her seminal 1983 rendition of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." 

The song has endured decades as an anthem for female rebellion and equality whether you're 15 or 50. "It just means that girls want to have the same damn experience that any man could have," the punky, funky singer, whose colorful career comprises expansive activism and advocacy for justice, explained (via The Atlantic). Though she was born into the name "Cynthia," the rocker changed it to the uber-stylish variation of "Cyndi," which refers to a woman from Mount Kynthos and is used in reference to the Greek deity Artemis (via Oh Baby! Names). If you want your girl to sparkle with goddess energy, "Cyndi" is the name you're looking for! 


Tectonic plates probably shift every time Adele hits those high notes. With the force of such might behind her, your baby will surely have much to thank you for if you name them after the singer! The origins of the name "Adele" are as lyrical and high-sounding as one might imagine them to be. With its roots in France, the title draws from the Germanic "adal" which means "noble" (via Oh Baby! Names). "Adele" and its variations have reportedly enjoyed much popularity among the French ruling class and as choice names in literary circles — we're talking about Jane Eyre's young French pupil Adèle (via Historical Novel Society).

Today though, a mention of the name "Adele" summons but one face. The English singer has commanded supersonic fame since she erupted onto the global music scene around 2010 — the powerful chorus of "Rolling in the Deep" never really stopped echoing in our ears, and her breakthrough second album "21" put her among the league of legends. Song after song by Adele has been a record-breaker, and for good reason! For she believes: "You're only as good as your next record" (via Time). Such conviction, such inspiration!