Enya Brennan (the anglicised version of Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin) is a massively successful Irish singer, composer and instrumentalist, the second biggest Irish musical export after U2 and undoubtedly Ireland's best-selling solo artist. Although Enya herself dislikes the term, New Age describes her music best: heavily layered vocals (layered up to eighty times in some cases) and an almost wickedly excessive use of the Roland D-50's strings and pads. She's rather reclusive and has a habit of releasing music to massive sales and her own relaxed schedule, years apart.
Enya: The Group
The musical group Enya is actually a partnership. There's Enya, who composes and performs; the music is all hers, although guest musicians are occasionally roped in to perform specific parts. Roma Ryan creates lyrics, utilising a dizzying range of languages including her own invented language Loxian. English, Irish and Latin feature most prominently, but Welsh, French, Spanish, Japanese and one or two Tolkien languages have appeared. Nicky Ryan (yes, Roma's husband) produces.
Enya was born in 1961 to a musical family, and from a heavily musically-influenced childhood went on to form Clannad with various siblings and two twin uncles. A slightly acrimonious split led producer Nicky Ryan and Enya to the formation of the Aigle Studio and the kickstarting of Enya's solo career.
Two instrumental pieces appeared on the 2-track cassette album Touch Travel (Good luck finding that one; console yourself with the second track which re-appeared on Watermark.) and various tracks appeared on the soundtrack to The Frog Prince, a 1984 movie. The 1986 BBC documentary The Celts provided an opportunity for Enya's first real solo album, the self-titled Enya. It didn't attract much attention at the time, but in 1988 the album Watermark produced the hit single Orinoco Flow, familiar to many for its repeated chorus of 'Sail Away' and heavy use of the Roland D-50 pizzicato strings sound, 'Pizzagogo'. The Watermark album sold eight million copies.
From then onwards, Enya continued to enjoy massive success. Shepherd Moons sold ten million copies and earned a Grammy Award. The Celts was re-released, and followed some years later by The Memory Of Trees. Enya's work is used extensively in films of all kinds, sampled by bands as incongruous as The Fugees and P. Diddy, and is instantly recognisable as Enya. Enya currently has four Grammy awards under her belt, and (it probably goes without saying) is massively rich.
As with all things musical, Enya has her fair share of passionate loathers. At first listen, some may complain, the distinctive 'Enya sound' means that if you own one Enya album you own them all. In South Park. the soporific, stultifying air of Enya induces grandpa to insert a fork in a nearby electrical socket. You are, of course, free to make your own mind up, and throw Enya's music onto the still warm ashes of Chris de Burgh's massively successful Lady In Red. It'd be a sad world if we all liked the same things, now, wouldn't it?
Enya (later re-issued with slight modifications as The Celts)
The Celts (a re-issue of the first album)
The Memory Of Trees
Paint The Sky With Stars (A best-of collection with two new songs)
A Day Without Rain
And Winter Came...
Dark Sky Island