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27 novembre 2009 5 27 /11 /novembre /2009 17:23

It is a tradition with female professional musicians to keep their maiden names.  So in the Music Box we have Christine Allen instead of Christine Dilkes, and Judith Harris in place of Judith Evett.  It makes sense.  If you start your career single, as most women do, then you begin to make an impression, why change your name and make it difficult for other musicians and agents to remember?  Changing your name is very common in the pop and celebrity fields.  Norma Jeane Baker doesn't sound as well as Marilyn Monroe.

Singers, actors and stage performers sometimes have to change their name because another professional has the same or similar already registered with Equity, the UK performing arts trade union.  It is done to stop confusion and to make sure that payments go to the right person.  When someone applies to join Equity they are told whether they can use their own name, or if it needs to be changed.  Imagine someone using the same name as you, and in the same branch of the arts, but not performing well and getting bad reviews.  If Equity asks for a change, some performers choose a surname beginning with a letter near the start of the alphabet.  They will then be near or at the top of a list of performers shown in a programme.  

There are lots of reasons for changing a name  -  a famous cellist known to Neville Dilkes changed his name because his father was a very well known comedian and he thought the possible confusion would be unhelpful.  Men are not usually presented with this problem.  Three prominent musicians in Britain, doing the same work, have the same surname* being identified only by their first names.  Neville was recommend by a famous conductor, that he should change his first name to Charles or Aston (his grandfather was called Charles Aston). Perhaps the great man had another Neville on his mind whom he disliked.  Another person advised Neville that his thirteen letters were unlucky.  Using that advice, Aston would be preferable to Charles. Clearly both were wrong.  People achieve success by what they do, not what they are called, it's just that changing your name might help a bit, but we will never know for sure.

* Colin Davis, Andrew Davis and Meredith Davies.

                                                                          Chris Skerry

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