Eithne Patricia N? Bhraon?in (born 17 May 1961), better known as Enya, is an Irish vocalist, instrumentalist and composer. Her name is sometimes presented in the media as Enya Brennan; Enya is an approximate transliteration of how Eithne is pronounced in her native Irish.
She began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined her family band Clannad, before leaving to pursue her solo career. Her album Watermark, which was released in 1988, propelled her to international recognition and Enya became known for her unique sound, which was characterized by voice-layering, folk melodies, synthesized backdrops and ethereal reverberations.
She continued to enjoy steady success during the 1990s and 2000s; her 2000 album A Day Without Rain achieved tremendous record sales (16 million) and she was named the world's biggest selling female artist of 2001. She is Ireland's best-selling solo artist and is officially the country's second-largest musical export after the band U2. Her album sales stand at 80 million as of 2009. Her work has earned her, among other things, an Academy Award nomination. She is known to have performed in 10 different languages during her career thus far.
Musical upbringing and Clannad
Enya was born in Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal into a musical family, the sixth of nine children, and is commonly referred to by her fans around the world as "The voice of Ireland". Her grandparents were in a band that played throughout Ireland, her father was the leader of the Slieve Foy Band before opening a pub, and her mother played in a dance band and later taught music at Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair. Enya attended Loreto Community School in Milford, County Donegal then moved away to attend college wanting to become a classical pianist, continuing her studies in music and also studying watercolour painting. Enya has four brothers and four sisters, several of whom formed the band An Clann As Dobhar in 1968. They renamed the band Clannad in the 1970s.
Enya (front row, right) on the cover of Clannad's 1981 album Fuaim.
In 1980, Enya worked with Clannad, the band composed of her siblings M?ire (Moya), P?l, and Ciar?n and twin uncles Noel and P?draig Duggan. Enya played the keyboard and provided backing vocals on their album Crann ?ll (1980), although she was not officially a member of the group until the 1981 release Fuaim, when she appeared on the cover. During that same year, Enya was also a member of Ragairne, the band of Altan front-woman Mair?ad N? Mhaonaigh.
In 1982, shortly before Clannad became famous for "Theme From Harry's Game," producer and manager Nicky Ryan left the group and Enya joined him to start her own solo career. Enya then formed her own recording studio, named "Aigle", which is French for "Eagle".
Launch of solo career: The Frog Prince and The Celts
Enya recorded two solo instrumental pieces called "An Ghaoth ?n Ghrian" (Irish for "The Solar Wind") and "Miss Clare Remembers" that were released on the 1983 album Touch Travel. She was first credited as Enya (as opposed to Eithne) for writing some of the music for the 1984 movie The Frog Prince, which was released on a soundtrack album of the same title. Another early appearance on record followed in 1987, where Enya provided spoken (not sung) vocals on Sin?ad O'Connor's debut album, The Lion and the Cobra. The title of the album is a partial English translation of Enya's Irish reading of Psalms 91:13 (KJV: "Thou shalt tread on the lion and the adder...") in the song "Never Get Old".
Enya was contracted to provide music for the soundtrack of the 1986 BBC television documentary The Celts. The music she produced was featured on her first solo album, Enya (1987), but it attracted little attention at the time. The B-Side single "Eclipse" is actually a reversed and modified version of Enya's song "Deireadh An Tuath", from this 1987 album Enya. The song "Boadicea", also from this album, would later be sampled by The Fugees on their single "Ready or Not" (1996), causing a brief stir because the group neither sought permission from Enya nor gave her credit initially, and by Mario Winans, who did give her credit (the Winans track, "I Don't Wanna Know" which features a rap by P. Diddy and is officially credited to all three artists, became Enya's highest charting single in the U.S., when it peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 in 2004).
International breakthrough: Watermark, Shepherd Moons and The Memory of Trees
"Na Laetha Geal M'?ige" (1988)
Irish language song from her album Watermark.
Enya achieved a breakthrough in her career in 1988 with the album Watermark, which featured the hit song "Orinoco Flow" (sometimes incorrectly known as "Sail Away"). "Orinoco Flow", featuring Jay Tyree, reported to be named after Orinoco Studios (now Miloco Studios), where it was conceived, topped the charts in the United Kingdom, peaked at number 2 in Germany and the Watermark album sold eight million copies.
Three years later, she followed with another hit album, Shepherd Moons, which sold ten million copies and earned Enya her first Grammy Award. The songs "On Your Shore" and "Exile" (from Watermark) and "Epona" (from Enya) were featured in the 1991 film L.A. Story. "Ebudae" was also featured on the soundtrack to the Robin Williams film Toys, while the 1990 film Green Card had "River", "Watermark", and "Storms In Africa". "Book Of Days" was featured prominently in the movie Far and Away, with an English-lyric version created for the film then replacing the old Gaelic-language version on all pressings of the Shepherd Moons album from 1993 onwards. In 1993, her recording of "Marble Halls" from Shepherd Moons was featured in the Martin Scorsese film, The Age of Innocence.
In 1992, a re-mastered version of the Enya album was released as The Celts including a longer, modified version of "Portrait", which was re-named as "Portrait (Out of the Blue)". Four years after Shepherd Moons, she released The Memory of Trees (1995), another Top Five success in both the UK and Germany, as well as her first Top 10 album in the U.S. Singles released from the album were "Anywhere Is" and "On My Way Home".
"Only If..." (1997)
Hit song from her greatest hits compilation, Paint the Sky with Stars.
In 1997, Enya released her greatest hits collection, Paint The Sky With Stars: The Best of Enya, again a Top Five smash in the UK and Germany, which featured two new songs: "Paint the Sky With Stars" and "Only If..."; "Only If..." later became a single. ("Only If You Want To", is an early version of "Only If...". It appears on a promotional Japanese CD called, The Best of Enya, and does not include the French lyrics.) She was offered the chance to compose the score for James Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, but declined. The eventual choice of Norwegian vocalist Sissel Kyrkjeb?, whose style is similar to Enya's, resulted in work that some sources erroneously credited to Enya, although in interviews, the songs were officially credited as the sound of Clannad. A 1989 recording of Enya singing an Irish language version of "Silent Night" ("O?che Chi?in") has been reissued many times over the years, including The Christmas EP (which otherwise contained several non-holiday related previously issued recordings by Enya) and the 1997 edition of the charity album A Very Special Christmas.
Ansett Australia extensively used "Storms in Africa" for promotional purposes when the airline re-branded itself in the 1990s. The advertisements featuring portions of the song can be found on YouTube.
The 1992 film Sleepwalkers features "Boadicea" as the film's signature tune.
Return and A Day Without Rain
This biographical section needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (July 2008)
(Find sources: ? )
Following a five-year break, Enya released the album A Day Without Rain in 2000, featuring 37 minutes of new material (34 minutes on the U.S. version). The album is Enya's most successful to date, peaking at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The first single, "Only Time", was used in the film Sweet November and received U.S. radio airplay in late 2000. In May 2001, NBC began using "Only Time" to accompany commercials for their television series Friends, which helped the song get airplay on top-40 radio. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, "Only Time" was used as a soundtrack in many radio and television reports about the attacks. Enya initially disapproved of this use, especially when bootlegged versions of "Only Time", mixed with sound effects from the attacks, were produced.
Enya eventually released a special edition of the song, and a maxi single was issued on 20 November 2001 featuring a pop mix, with proceeds donated to the families of victims. "Only Time" peaked at number 10 on the U.S. Hot 100, number 12 on the Pop Chart and hit number one on the Adult Contemporary and Hot Adult Contemporary charts. In Germany, "Only Time" re-entered the German single charts at number 1 and the album A Day Without Rain reached number one some weeks later.
Enya won the Echo Award for best selling international single in Germany of 2001, and received a nomination for best selling album.
In 2001, Enya recorded "May It Be", which featured in the first installment of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Fellowship of the Ring, and was her second consecutive single to enter the German charts at number one. The video features scenes from the Peter Jackson film.
Enya, self-admittedly, composes music slowly. A new song called "Sumiregusa" ("Wild Violet") was based around a Japanese poem by Roma Ryan. In September 2004, the song was used in Japan as part of an advertising campaign for Panasonic. Warner Music Japan stated that Enya's next album was scheduled for release in Japan in mid-November. Enya issued a press release on her official Web site on 19 September stating that this was a mistake and no new album was immediately forthcoming.
Amarantine to And Winter Came
In November 2005, a new album, entitled Amarantine, was released. It reached the Top 10 in both the UK and the U.S., and peaked at number 3 in Germany. The album won the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for 2007, Enya's fourth.
In 2006, Enya released several Christmas-themed CDs with newly recorded material. On 10 October 2006, Sounds of the Season: The Enya Holiday Collection was released containing six songs: the previously released "O?che Chi?in" (a.k.a. "Silent Night") and "Amid the Falling Snow", new recordings of the standards "Adeste Fideles" (a.k.a. "Oh Come All Ye Faithful") and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as well as two original songs, "Christmas Secrets" and "The Magic of the Night". This CD was released only in the United States in an exclusive partnership with the NBC television network and the Target department store chain. Enya was awarded the World's Best-Selling Irish Act award at the World Music Awards in London on 19 November 2006.
In late November, two new editions of Amarantine were released. In the UK it was reissued as Amarantine - Special Christmas Edition with a second disc containing the four new Christmas songs previously issued on Sounds of the Season (the original album already had "Amid the Falling Snow" while "O?che Chi?in" is a recording dating back to 1988, which had already been featured on numerous collections). The U.S. received a special version of this release (Amarantine - Deluxe Collector's Edition), which also included three postcards and a copy of Roma Ryan's book Water Shows the Hidden Heart, which is referenced on the original album. Canadian fans could choose from the Special Christmas Edition of Amarantine or an EP entitled Christmas Secrets, which contained only the four new songs.
Coinciding with these releases was the re-launch of Enya's official website on 2 November 2006. On 16 November 2006, Enya mentioned on ITV1's that she was working on a new album. A month later, in a Japanese interview Enya said that the album would be a complete Christmas album and would be released in 2007 which led to widespread fan speculation, such as on the official enya.com forum; ultimately, no release occurred at that time.
By mid-2007, Enya claimed to have sold 80 million albums. An American businessperson has coined the phrase "enyanomics" to explain Enya's ability to sell millions of records without giving any live performances.
On 29 June 2007, Enya received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Shortly after, on 10 July 2007 (date also stated at Enya's official website under News), Enya received a second honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster.
On 1 September 2008, Enya's website launched "The Loxian Games". The competition is a way for fans of Enya to win four grand prizes, which have yet to be revealed. Thirty more prizes will be awarded to runners-up. In past Enya.com Online Competitions, winners were awarded autographed Enya albums. The launch of "The Loxian Games" and a brand-new website have recently come out.
In 7 November 2008, Enya's new album, And Winter Came..., was released. The album is a Christmas and Winter themed album. Again, this was a huge international hit, reaching top 10 in many countries, an unusual accomplishment for a seasonal album.
On Enya's official site, it was announced that there will be a release of another best of Enya album in November 2009. There will also be a release of a DVD. The track listing of both the CD and DVD was also announced.
Behind the music, musical style and other projects
Much of her music shows influence of traditional Irish, Celtic and classical music.
As a musical group, Enya represents a partnership between three people: Enya herself, who composes and performs the music; Nicky Ryan, who produces the albums; and Roma Ryan, who writes the lyrics in various languages, except Gaelic, in which Enya will render the lyrics herself. Enya performs all percussion, instruments, and vocals in her pieces unless specified. Although there are certain pieces where acoustic instruments are featured, almost all sounds of her pieces are created by a synthesizer. Her trademark sound is achieved by layering her voice as much as 80 times.
Her signature sound is renowned for using simple arrangements with extensive multi-tracking vocals. She has stated in an interview that she has once dubbed her voice to about 500 times. The vocals are each performed individually, and are layered together to form a virtual choir, although all the voices are Enya herself. In "Cursum Perficio" of the album Watermark, Enya reaches a C an octave below middle C. Later in the piece, she sings a high A-flat above the treble clef.
On the album Amarantine, Enya sings in Japanese and Loxian, a language invented by Roma Ryan. While most of her songs are sung in English, some of Enya's songs are sung entirely in Irish or Latin. Enya has also sung songs written entirely or partially in Welsh, Spanish, French, and even languages created by J. R. R. Tolkien. Enya has performed songs relating to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, including 1991's "Lothl?rien" (instrumental), 2001's "May It Be" (sung in English and Quenya), and "An?ron" (in Sindarin)?the last two, which she composed, appearing on the soundtrack of Peter Jackson's movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Enya has given several live performances on various television shows, events and ceremonies (her most recent appearance was in Gaoth Dobhair in the summer of 2005, which coincided with a tribute event to the Brennan family that took place in Letterkenny), but she has yet to do a concert. She has said, though, that she would love to do it someday, and would consider it a great challenge.
Although her Grammys were for "Best New Age Album", Enya does not personally classify her music as belonging to the New Age genre. When asked what genre she would classify her music as belonging to, she would reply, "Enya".
For a full listing of albums, singles and chart positions see Enya discography.
Shepherd Moons (1991)
The Celts (1992) (Re-release of the 1987 album Enya)
The Memory of Trees (1995)
A Day Without Rain (2000)
And Winter Came... (2008)
Paint the Sky with Stars (1997)
A Box of Dreams (1997)
Only Time - The Collection (2002)
In 2000, Warner Music released Enya: The Video Collection on DVD in Europe, South Africa and Asia, collecting all her videos from "Orinoco Flow" up to and including "Wild Child", except for the video from "Book of Days", which was replaced by a live TV performance due to licensing complications relating to the video's use of footage from the film Far and Away. This release was a successor to an earlier collection of videos entitled Moonshadows, which was released on VHS and laserdisc in 1992. The DVD release also included interviews and features on the making of two videos.
A North American (Region 1) release of the Video Collection DVD was announced on several occasions during 2000-2001, but it did not occur; the reason for which has never been officially stated. At one point it was announced that the release had been delayed in order to allow the inclusion of the video for "May it Be", while the (now defunct) Enya.org fan site reported that a dispute over the sound quality of the release led to it being withdrawn.
As of 2005, The Collection was still considered to be "coming soon" by some North American online retailers although bootleg copies from Asia have circulated at the retail level in some parts of Region 1 since 2000. Despite the release of a new CD by Enya in November 2005, the Region 1 edition of the DVD collection remains in limbo and there has been no announcement of an updated DVD release in other parts of the world.
As of 2009, the only official release of an Enya video on DVD in North America has been "May it Be", which was first included on the DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
As a member of her family's band Clannad, Enya formed a friendship with producer/manager Nicky Ryan. After working with Ryan for seven years, Clannad began looking for another producer. Differences in opinion about the future marketing of the band resulted in an acrimonious split among the group, causing Ryan and Enya to part company with Clannad to pursue a solo career. Following the split, Enya moved in with Nicky and Roma Ryan and constructed a small studio in a shed. Enya began giving piano lessons to earn some income, while the Ryans waited for inspiration to strike. Eventually a call from the BBC resulted in a commission to score music for The Celts television documentary series, and larger success would slowly follow.
Beginning with Watermark, Enya began to attract the attention of stalkers, several of whom succeeded in breaking into her castle and attacking some of the staff. As a result, Enya spent an estimated ?250,000 on security measures for her home, Manderley Castle in Killiney, County Dublin (named after Maxim de Winter's house in her favourite book and black and white movie, Rebecca). In 1996, a man, who had been seen in Dublin wearing her photograph around his neck, stabbed himself after being ejected from her parents' pub in Gweedore, County Donegal.
In 2006, Enya made it to the number three spot in the ranks of wealthy Irish entertainers with an estimated fortune of ?109 million (i.e., ?75 million or US$136 million). This was enough to take her to number 95 in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006 of the 250 Wealthiest Irish People.
Enya loves cats. In an interview published in 1988, when asked about pets, she replied: "I've got a cat. I love cats; at one stage I had 12. It was just bliss. They'd all lie around in the sun and then come up and climb around my neck."
Enya's favourite classical composer is Sergei Rachmaninoff. Her hobbies include watching romantic black and white films, collecting artwork, reading, and watercolour painting.
Enya has won four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album to date:
Grammy Awards of 1993, Best New Age Album for Shepherd Moons
Grammy Awards of 1997, Best New Age Album for The Memory of Trees
Grammy Awards of 2002, Best New Age Album for A Day Without Rain
Grammy Awards of 2007, Best New Age Album for Amarantine
Also, "May It Be" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song at the 2002 ceremonies, but it lost to Randy Newman's "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc.