Last updated

Birth nameEithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin
Born (1961-05-17) 17 May 1961 (age 58)
Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • producer
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
  • percussion
Years active1976–present
Associated acts
Website enya.com

Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin (anglicised as Enya Patricia Brennan ( /ˈɛnjə/ ); born 17 May 1961), known professionally as Enya, is an Irish singer, songwriter, record producer and musician. Born into a musical family and raised in the Irish-speaking area of Gweedore in County Donegal, Enya began her music career when she joined her family's Celtic band Clannad in 1980 on keyboards and backing vocals. She left in 1982 with their manager and producer Nicky Ryan to pursue a solo career, with Ryan's wife Roma Ryan as her lyricist. Enya developed her sound over the following four years with multitracked vocals and keyboards with elements of new age, Celtic, classical, church, and folk music. She has sung in ten languages.

Linguistic anglicisation is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases in order to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or understand in English. The term commonly refers to the respelling of foreign words, often to a more drastic degree than that implied in, for example, romanisation. One instance is the word "dandelion", modified from the French dent-de-lion. The term can also refer to phonological adaptation without spelling change: spaghetti, for example, is accepted in English with Italian spelling, but anglicised phonetically.

Gweedore Parish in Ulster, Ireland

Gweedore is an Irish-speaking district and parish located on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal in the west of Ulster in the north-west of Ireland. Gweedore stretches some 26 kilometres (16 mi) from Glasserchoo in the north to Crolly in the south and around 14 kilometres (9 mi) from Dunlewey in the east to Magheraclogher in the west, and is one of Europe's most densely populated rural areas. It is the largest Irish-speaking parish in Ireland with a population of around 4,065, and is also the home of the northwest regional studios of the Irish-language radio service RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, as well as an external campus of National University of Ireland, Galway. Gweedore includes the villages Bunbeg, Derrybeg, Dunlewey, Crolly and Brinalack, and sits in the shade of County Donegal's highest peak, Errigal.

County Donegal County in the Republic of Ireland

County Donegal is a county of Ireland in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal in the south of the county. Donegal County Council is the local council and Lifford the county town.


Enya's first projects as a solo artist included soundtrack work for The Frog Prince (1984) and the 1987 BBC documentary series The Celts , which was released as her debut album, Enya (1987). She signed with Warner Music UK, which granted her artistic freedom and minimal interference from the label. The commercial and critical success of Watermark (1988) propelled her to worldwide fame, helped by the international top-10 hit single "Orinoco Flow". This was followed by the multi-million selling albums Shepherd Moons (1991), The Memory of Trees (1995) and A Day Without Rain (2000). Sales of the latter and its lead single, "Only Time", surged in the United States following its use in the media coverage of the September 11 attacks. Following Amarantine (2005) and And Winter Came... (2008), Enya took an extended break from music; she returned in 2012 and released Dark Sky Island (2015).

<i>The Frog Prince</i> (1984 film) 1984 film by Brian Gilbert

The Frog Prince is a 1985 romantic comedy film written and directed by Brian Gilbert. The film was a British and French co-production and was released in the US under the title French Lesson. The story revolves around a young British girl who travels to Paris to go to college and is determined to find the man of her dreams. It stars Jane Snowden as Jenny.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

<i>Enya</i> (album) 1987 studio album / Soundtrack album by Enya

Enya is the debut studio album by Irish singer, songwriter, and musician Enya, released in March 1987 by BBC Records in the United Kingdom and by Atlantic Records in the United States. It was renamed as The Celts for the 1992 international re-release of the album by WEA Records in Europe and by Reprise Records in the United States. The album is a selection of music she recorded for the soundtrack to the BBC television series The Celts, aired in 1987. Four years into her largely unnoticed solo career, Enya landed her first major project in 1985 when producer Tony McAuley asked her to contribute a song to the soundtrack. After its director David Richardson liked her demo, Enya accepted his offer to compose the entire score with her longtime recording partners, producer and arranger Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan.

Enya is known for her privacy and has never undertaken a concert tour. She is Ireland's bestselling solo artist [1] and bestselling artist behind U2, with a discography that has sold 26.5 million certified albums in the United States [2] and an estimated 75 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. [3] A Day Without Rain (2000) remains the bestselling new-age album, with an estimated 16 million copies sold worldwide. [4] Enya has won awards including seven World Music Awards, four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, [5] and an Ivor Novello Award. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for "May It Be", written for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

U2 Four-member Irish rock band, from Dublin

U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin, formed in 1976. The group consists of Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr.. Initially rooted in post-punk, U2's musical style has evolved throughout their career, yet has maintained an anthemic quality built on Bono's expressive vocals and the Edge's effects-based guitar textures. Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal and sociopolitical themes. Popular for their live performances, the group have staged several ambitious and elaborate tours over their career.

The discography of Enya, an Irish singer-songwriter, consists of eight studio albums, three compilation albums, twenty-one singles and a number of other appearances. Enya achieved a breakthrough in her career in 1988 with the album Watermark, containing the hit song "Orinoco Flow" which topped the charts in the United Kingdom and reached number 2 in Germany. Three years later, Shepherd Moons followed. In 1992, a re-mastered version of the 1987 Enya album was released as The Celts. 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 US. Singles released from the album were "Anywhere Is" and "On My Way Home". In 1997, Enya released her greatest hits collection, Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya, again a top five album in the UK and Germany, which featured two new songs: "Paint the Sky with Stars" and "Only If...". Following a five-year break, Enya released the album A Day Without Rain in 2000. The album is Enya's most successful to date, peaking at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200 albums chart. The first single, "Only Time", was used in the film Sweet November and peaked at No. 10 on the US Hot 100 and number 1 in Germany.

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

Early life

Aerial view of Gweedore, County Donegal, Enya's hometown Hotel, beach, and shipwreck south of R257 at Bunbeg - geograph.org.uk - 1159653.jpg
Aerial view of Gweedore, County Donegal, Enya's hometown

Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin was born on 17 May 1961 in Dore, within the area of the parish Gaoth Dobhair, in the northwestern county of Donegal, Ireland. [6] It is a Gaeltacht region where Irish is the primary language. Her name is anglicised as Enya Patricia Brennan, [7] where Enya is the phonetic spelling of how Eithne is pronounced in her native Ulster dialect of Irish; "Ní Bhraonáin" translates to "daughter of Brennan". [8] The fifth of nine children, Enya was born into a Roman Catholic family of musicians. [9] Her father Leo Brennan was the leader of the Slieve Foy Band, an Irish showband, and ran Leo's Tavern in Meenaleck; her mother Máire Brennan (née Duggan), who had distant Spanish roots and whose ancestors settled on Tory Island, [10] was an amateur musician who played in Leo's band [11] [12] and taught music at Gweedore Community School. [13] Enya's maternal grandfather Aodh was the headmaster of the primary school in Dore, and her grandmother was a teacher there. Aodh was also the founder of the Gweedore Theatre company. [14]

Gaeltacht primarily Irish-speaking region in Ireland

Gaeltacht is an Irish-language word for any primarily Irish-speaking region. In Ireland, the term Gaeltacht refers individually to any, or collectively to all, of the districts where the government recognises that the Irish language is the predominant vernacular, or language of the home.

Irish language Gaelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of habitual but non-traditional speakers across the country. A non-traditional speaker is known as a Gaeilgeoir.

Ulster Irish

Ulster Irish is the variety of Irish spoken in the province of Ulster. It "occupies a central position in the Gaelic world made up of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man". Ulster Irish thus has more in common with Scottish Gaelic and Manx. Within Ulster there have historically been two main sub-dialects: West Ulster and East Ulster. The Western dialect is spoken in County Donegal and once was in parts of neighbouring counties, hence the name Donegal Irish. The Eastern dialect was spoken in most of the rest of Ulster and northern parts of counties Louth and Meath.

Enya described her upbringing as "very quiet and happy." [15] At age three, she took part in her first singing competition at the annual Feis Ceoil music festival. [14] She took part in pantomimes at Gweedore Theatre and sang with her siblings in her mother's choir at St Mary's church in Derrybeg. She learned English at primary school and began piano lessons at age four. "I had to do school work and then travel to a neighbouring town for piano lessons, and then more school work. I ... remember my brothers and sisters playing outside ... and I would be inside playing the piano. This one big book of scales, practising them over and over." [8] [16] At eleven, Enya's grandfather paid for her education [14] [17] at a strict convent boarding school in Milford [11] run by nuns of the Loreto order, [10] where she developed a taste for classical music, art, Latin and watercolour painting. [10] "It was devastating to be torn away from such a large family, but it was good for my music." [8] Enya left the school at 17 and studied classical music in college for one year [8] with the aim of becoming "a piano teacher sort of person. I never thought of myself composing or being on stage." [18]

Feis Ceoil is an Irish music organisation which holds an annual competitive festival of classical music. It was first organised in Dublin in 1897 by Dr. Annie Patterson and Edward Martyn for the purpose of stimulating musical studies in Ireland and encouraging native performers and composers. It was a result of the general Gaelicising programme of the Gaelic League. It consisted of competitions for performance and composition and was supported by all musicians of the day, both traditional and classical. Prizes aggregating £800 were distributed among the successful competitors.


Doirí Beaga, is a Gaeltacht village and townland in the parish of Gweedore in County Donegal, Ireland. It includes a Roman Catholic church, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta regional studios, a Gaelic Athletic Association club and a golf club.

In music theory, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch. A scale ordered by increasing pitch is an ascending scale, and a scale ordered by decreasing pitch is a descending scale. Some scales contain different pitches when ascending than when descending, for example, the melodic minor scale.


1976–1985: Clannad and early solo career

In the 1970s several members of Enya's family formed Clannad, a Celtic band with Nicky Ryan as their manager, sound engineer and producer and his future wife Roma Ryan assisting with the tour management and administrative duties. [17] [19] In 1980, after her year at college, Enya decided not to study music at university and instead accepted Ryan's invitation to join the group with the aim of expanding their sound by incorporating keyboards and another backup vocalist. [17] [20] She toured across Europe and played an uncredited role on their sixth album, Crann Úll (1980), with a line-up of siblings Máire, Pól and Ciarán Brennan and twin uncles, Noel and Pádraig Duggan. Enya became an official and credited member by the time of their next album Fuaim (1981), which features a front cover photograph of her with the band. [10] Nicky maintains it was never his intention to make Enya a permanent member, and realised she was "fiercely independent ... intent on playing her own music. She was just not sure of how to go about it". This sparked discussions between the two on the idea of using Enya's voice to form a "choir of one", a concept based on the "wall of sound" technique by Phil Spector that interested them both. [17]

Clannad Irish band

Clannad is an Irish family band formed in 1970 in Gweedore, County Donegal. Their music has been described as folk, folk rock, traditional Irish, Celtic and new-age, often incorporating elements of smooth jazz and Gregorian chant.

Celtic music music genre

Celtic music is a broad grouping of music genres that evolved out of the folk music traditions of the Celtic people of Western Europe. It refers to both orally-transmitted traditional music and recorded music and the styles vary considerably to include everything from "trad" (traditional) music to a wide range of hybrids.

Nicholas Dominick Ryan is an Irish music producer, recording engineer, and manager. He is best known as the longtime business and recording partner for the singer, songwriter and musician Enya alongside his wife, poet and lyricist Roma Ryan. Born and raised in Dublin, Ryan gained initial recognition in the 1970s and 1980s for his work with several artists including Gary Moore, Planxty, Christy Moore and Clannad.

In 1982, during a Clannad tour of Switzerland, Nicky called for a band meeting as several issues had arisen and felt they needed to be addressed. He added, "It was short and only required a vote, I was a minority of one and lost. Roma and I were out. This left the question of what happened with Enya. I decided to stand back and say nothing". [17] Enya chose to leave to pursue a solo career with the Ryans, which initially caused some friction between the three and her family but she preferred being independent and disliked being confined in the group as "somebody in the background". [19] Nicky then suggested to Enya that either she return to Gweedore "with no particular definite future", or live with him and Roma in their home, then located in the northern Dublin suburb of Artane, "and see what happens, musically". [18] After their bank denied them a loan, Enya sold her saxophone and gave piano lessons and the Ryans used what they could afford from their savings to build a recording facility named Aigle Studio, named after the French word for "eagle", in a shed in their back garden, [20] [17] and rented it out to other artists to cover its costs. [21] They formed a musical partnership in the process with Nicky as Enya's producer and arranger and Roma her lyricist, [19] and became directors of their music company, Aigle Music. [22] In the following two years, Enya developed her playing and composing by recording herself recite classical pieces on the piano and listening back to them. The process was repeated until she started to improvise sections and develop her own piano arrangements. [23] Her first composition was "An Taibhse Uaighneach", Irish for "The Lonely Ghost". [17] During this time, Enya played the synthesiser on Ceol Aduaidh (1983) by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy [24] and performed with the duo and Mhaonaigh's brother Gearóid in their short lived group, Ragairne.

Enya's first solo endeavour arrived in 1983 when she recorded two piano instrumentals, "An Ghaoth Ón Ghrian", Irish for "The Solar Wind", and "Miss Clare Remembers", at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin which were released on Touch Travel (1984), a limited release audio cassette of music from various artists on the Touch label. She is credited as "Eithne Ní Bhraonáin" on its liner notes. [25] After several months of preparation, Enya's debut solo performance took place on 23 September 1983 at the National Stadium in Dublin that was televised for RTÉ's music show Festival Folk. [26] Nial Morris, a musician who worked with her during this time, recalled she "was so nervous she could barely get on stage, and she cowered behind the piano until the gig was over." [27]

At the suggestion of Roma, who thought Enya's music would suit accompanying visual images, a demo tape of her compositions with Morris on additional keyboards [27] [28] was made and sent to various film producers. Among them was David Puttnam, who liked the tape and chose Enya to compose the soundtrack to the romantic comedy film The Frog Prince (1984), of which he served as executive producer. [18] Enya wrote nine tracks for the film but found her songs were rearranged and orchestrated against her wishes by Richard Myhill except two tracks she sang on, "The Frog Prince" and "Dreams", with the latter's lyrics penned by Charlie McGettigan. [29] Film editor Jim Clark later claimed the rearrangements were necessary as Enya found it difficult to compose to picture. [30] Released in 1985 by Island Visual Arts, the album is the first commercial release that credits her as "Enya". [29] The change from Eithne to Enya originated from Nicky Ryan, who thought her name would be too difficult for people outside Ireland to pronounce correctly, and suggested the phonetic spelling of her name. [20] Enya looked back on the project as a good career move, but a disappointing one as "we weren't part of it at the end". [15] [18] She then sang on three tracks on Ordinary Man (1985) by Christy Moore. [31] Mike Oldfield invited Enya to record harmony vocals on his 1985 single "Pictures in the Dark", but she declined. [32]

1985–1989: The Celts and Watermark

In 1985, producer Tony McAuley commissioned Enya to write a song for the six-part BBC2 television documentary series The Celts . [33] She already had written a Celtic-influenced song named "The March of the Celts" and submitted it to the project. Each episode was to feature a different composer at first, but director David Richardson liked the track so much, he selected her to compose the entire soundtrack. [23] [34] Enya recorded 72 minutes of music in 1986 at Aigle Studio and the BBC studios in Wood Lane, London without recording to picture, though she was required to portray certain themes and ideas that the producers wanted. Unlike The Frog Prince, she worked with little interference which granted her freedom to establish her sound [15] that she adopted throughout her career, using multi-tracked vocals, keyboards, and percussion with elements of Celtic, classical, church and folk music. [35]

In March 1987, two months before the series aired on television, a 40-minute selection of the soundtrack was released as Enya's first solo album, titled Enya , by BBC Records in the United Kingdom [18] and by Atlantic Records in the United States. The latter promoted it with a new age imprint on the packaging which Nicky later thought was "a cowardly thing for them to do". [36] The album gained enough public attention to reach number 8 on the Irish Albums Chart and number 69 on the UK Albums Chart. [37] "I Want Tomorrow" was released as Enya's first single. [18] "Boadicea" was sampled by The Fugees on their 1996 song "Ready or Not"; the group neither sought permission nor gave her credit, causing Enya to threaten legal action. The group subsequently gave her credit and paid a fee worth around $3 million. [38] Later in 1987, she appeared on Sinéad O'Connor's debut album The Lion and the Cobra , reciting Psalm 91 in Irish on the song "Never Get Old". [39]

Several weeks after the release of her debut album, Enya secured a recording contract with Warner Music UK after Rob Dickins, the label's chairman and a fan of Clannad, took a liking to Enya and found himself playing it "every night before I went to bed". [40] He then met Enya and the Ryans at a chance meeting at the Irish Recorded Music Association award ceremony in Dublin, and learned Enya was thinking about signing with a rival label. Dickins seized the opportunity and signed her to Warner Music with a deal worth £75,000, [41] granting her wish to write and record with artistic freedom, minimal interference from the label, and without set deadlines to finish albums. [42] [36] Dickins said: "Sometimes you sign an act to make money, and sometimes you sign an act to make music. This was clearly the latter ... I just wanted to be involved with this music." [43] Enya then left Atlantic and signed with the Warner-led Geffen Records to handle her American distribution. [36]

With the green-light to produce a new studio album, Enya recorded Watermark from June 1987 to April 1988. [23] It was initially recorded in analogue at Aigle Studio before Dickins requested to have it re-recorded digitally at Orinoco Studios in Bermondsey, London. [44] Watermark was released in September 1988 and became an unexpected hit, reaching number 5 in the United Kingdom [37] and number 25 on the Billboard 200 in the United States following its release there in January 1989. [45] [36] Its lead single, "Orinoco Flow", was the last song written for the album. It was not intended to be a single at first, but Enya and the Ryans chose it after Dickins asked for a single from them several times as a joke, knowing Enya's music was not made for the Top 40 chart. Dickins and engineer Ross Cullum are referenced in the songs' lyrics. [46] "Orinoco Flow" became an international top 10 hit and was number one in the United Kingdom for three weeks, [37] the first from Warner to reach the top spot in six years. [41] The new-found success propelled Enya to international fame and she received endorsement deals and offers to use her music in television commercials. [47] She spent one year travelling worldwide to promote the album which increased her exposure through interviews, appearances, and live performances. [48] By 1996, Watermark had sold in excess of 1.2 million copies in the United Kingdom and 4 million in the United States.

1989–1997: Shepherd Moons and The Memory of Trees

After promoting Watermark, Enya purchased new recording equipment and started work on her next album, Shepherd Moons . [49] She found the success of Watermark caused a considerable amount of pressure when it came to writing new songs, adding: "I kept thinking "Would this have gone on Watermark? Is it as good?" Eventually I had to forget about this and start on a blank canvas and just really go with what felt right." [50] Enya wrote songs based on several ideas, including entries from her diary, The Blitz in London, and her grandparents. [51] Shepherd Moons was released in November 1991, her first album released under Warner-led Reprise Records in the United States. [49] It became a greater commercial success than Watermark, reaching number one at home for one week [37] and number 17 in the United States. [45] "Caribbean Blue", its lead single, charted at number thirteen in the United Kingdom. [37] By 1997, the album had reached multi-platinum certification for selling in excess of 1.2 million copies in the United Kingdom and 5 million in the United States.

In 1991, Warner Music released a collection of five Enya music videos as Moonshadows for home video. [52] In 1993, Enya won her first Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for Shepherd Moons. Soon after, Enya and Nicky entered discussions with Industrial Light & Magic, founded by George Lucas, regarding an elaborate stage lighting system for a proposed concert tour, but nothing came out of the meetings. [53] In November 1992, Warner had obtained the rights to Enya and re-released the album as The Celts with new artwork. It surpassed its initial sale performance, reaching number 10 in the United Kingdom [37] and reached platinum certification in the United States in 1996 for one million copies shipped.

After travelling worldwide to promote Shepherd Moons, Enya started to write and record her fourth album, The Memory of Trees . The album was released in November 1995. It peaked at number five in the United Kingdom [37] and number nine in the United States, [45] where it sold over 3 million copies. Its lead single, "Anywhere Is", reached number seven in the United Kingdom. The second, "On My Way Home", reached number twenty-six in the same country. [37] In late 1994, Enya put out an extended play of Christmas music titled The Christmas EP. [54] Enya was offered to compose the score for Titanic , but declined. A recording of her singing "Oíche Chiúin", an Irish language version of "Silent Night", appeared on the charity album A Very Special Christmas 3 , released in benefit of the Special Olympics in October 1997. [55]

In early 1997, Enya began to select tracks for her first compilation album, "trying to select the obvious ones, the hits, and others." [56] She chose to work on the collection following the promotional tour for The Memory of Trees as she felt it was the right time in her career, and that her contract with WEA required her to release a "best of" album. The set, named Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya , features two new tracks, "Paint the Sky with Stars" and "Only If...". [57] Released in November 1997, the album was a worldwide commercial success, reaching No. 4 in the UK [37] and No. 30 in the US, [45] where it went on to sell over 4 million copies. "Only If..." was released as a single in 1997. Enya described the album as "like a musical diary ... each melody has a little story and I live through that whole story from the beginning ... your mind goes back to that day and what you were thinking." [58]

1998–2007: A Day Without Rain and Amarantine

Enya started work on her fifth studio album, titled A Day Without Rain , in mid-1998. In a departure from her previous albums she incorporated the use of a string section into her compositions, something that was not a conscious decision at first, but Enya and Nicky Ryan agreed it complemented the songs that were being written. The album was released in November 2000, and reached number 6 in the United Kingdom [37] and an initial peak of number 17 in the United States. [59] In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, sales of the album and its lead single, "Only Time", surged after the song was widely used during radio and television coverage of the events, [60] leading to its description as "a post-September 11 anthem". [61] The exposure caused A Day Without Rain to outperform its original chart performance to peak at number 2 on the Billboard 200, [60] and the release of a maxi single containing the original and a pop remix of "Only Time" in November 2001. Enya donated its proceeds in aid of the International Association of Firefighters. The song topped the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and went to number 10 on the Hot 100 singles, Enya's highest charting US single to date. [62] A second single, "Wild Child", was released in December 2001. A Day Without Rain remains Enya's biggest seller, with 7 million copies sold in the US and the most sold new-age album of all time with an estimated 13 million copies sold worldwide.

In 2001, Enya agreed to write and perform on two tracks for the soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) at the request of director Peter Jackson. [63] Its composer Howard Shore "imagined her voice" as he wrote the film's score, making an uncommon exception to include another artist in one of his soundtracks. [64] After flying to New Zealand to observe the filming and to watch a rough cut of the film, [60] Enya returned to Ireland and composed "Aníron (Theme for Aragon and Arwen)" with lyrics by Roma in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Elvish language Sindarin, and "May It Be", sung in English and another Tolkien language, Quenya. Shore then based his orchestrations around Enya's recorded vocals and themes to create "a seamless sound". [64] In 2002, Enya released "May It Be" as a single which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. She performed the song live at the 74th Academy Awards ceremony with an orchestra in March 2002, [65] and later cited the moment as a career highlight. [66]

Enya undertook additional studio projects in 2001 and 2002. The first was work on the soundtrack to the Japanese romantic film Calmi Cuori Appassionati (2001) which was subsequently released as Themes from Calmi Cuori Appassionati (2001). The album is formed of tracks spanning her career from Enya to A Day Without Rain with two B-sides. The album went to number 2 in Japan, and became Enya's second to sell one million copies in the country. [67] November 2002 saw the release of Only Time – The Collection , a box set of 51 tracks recorded through her career which received a limited release of 200,000 copies.

In September 2003, Enya returned to Aigle Studio to start work on her sixth studio album, Amarantine . [68] Roma said the title means "everlasting". [61] The album marks the first instance of Enya singing in Loxian, a fictional language created by Roma that came about when Enya was working on "Water Shows the Hidden Heart". After numerous attempts to sing the song in English, Irish and Latin, Roma suggested a new language based on some of the sounds Enya would sing along to when developing her songs. It was a success, and Enya sung "Less Than a Pearl" and "The River Sings" in the same way. Roma worked on the language further, creating a "culture and history" behind it surrounding the Loxian people who are of another planet, questioning the existence of life on another. [61] "Sumiregusa (Wild Violet)" is sung in Japanese. [61] Amarantine was a global success, reaching number 6 on the Billboard 200 [45] and number 8 in the UK. [37] It has sold over 1 million certified copies in the US, a considerable drop in sales in comparison to her previous albums. Enya dedicated the album to BBC producer Tony McAuley, who had commissioned Enya to write the soundtrack to The Celts, following his death in 2003. [69] The lead single, "Amarantine", was released in December 2005. [61] A Christmas Special Edition was released in 2006, followed by a Deluxe Edition.

In 2006, Enya released Sounds of the Season: The Enya Holiday Collection , a Christmas-themed EP released exclusively in the US following an exclusive partnership with the NBC network and the Target department store chain. It includes two new songs, "Christmas Secrets" and "The Magic of the Night".

In June 2007, Enya received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland, Galway. [70] A month later, she received one from the University of Ulster. [71] [72]

2008–present: And Winter Came... and Dark Sky Island

Enya continued to write music with a winter and Christmas theme for her seventh studio album, And Winter Came... . Initially she intended to make an album of seasonal songs and hymns set for a release in late 2007, but decided to produce a winter-themed album instead. The track "My! My! Time Flies!", a tribute to the late Irish guitarist Jimmy Faulkner, incorporates a guitar solo performed by Pat Farrell, [73] the first use of a guitar on an Enya album since "I Want Tomorrow" from Enya. Upon its release in November 2008, And Winter Came... reached No. 6 in the UK [37] and No. 8 in the US [45] and sold almost 3.5 million copies worldwide by 2011. [74]

After promoting And Winter Came..., Enya took an extended break from writing and recording music. She spent her time resting, visiting family in Australia, and renovating her new home in the south of France. In March 2009, her first four studio albums were reissued in Japan in the Super High Material CD format with bonus tracks. [46] [75] [76] [77] Her second compilation album and DVD, The Very Best of Enya , was released in November 2009 and features songs from 1987 to 2008, including a previously unreleased version of "Aníron". In 2013, "Only Time" was used in the "Epic Split" advertisement by Volvo Trucks starring Jean-Claude Van Damme who does the splits while suspended between two lorries. [78] The video went viral, leading to numerous parodies of the commercial uploaded to YouTube also using "Only Time". The attention resulted in the song peaking at No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

In 2012, Enya returned to the studio to record her eighth album, Dark Sky Island . Its name refers to the island of Sark, where it became the first island to be designated a dark-sky preserve, and a series of poems on islands by Roma Ryan. The new album was promoted with the premiere in October 2015 of its lead single, "Echoes in Rain", on Ken Bruce's radio show and with the release in the same month of the single as a digital download. [79] Upon its release on 20 November 2015, Dark Sky Island went to No. 4 in the UK, Enya's highest charting studio album there since Shepherd Moons went to No. 1, [37] and to No. 8 in the US. [45] A Deluxe Edition features three additional songs. [80] Enya completed a promotional tour of the UK and Europe, the US and Japan. [81] [82] [83] [84] [85] [86] During her visit to Japan, Enya performed "Orinoco Flow" and "Echoes in Rain" at the Universal Studios Japan Christmas show in Osaka. [87] In December 2016, Enya appeared on the Raidió Teilifís Éireann Christmas special Christmas Carols from Cork, marking her first Irish television appearance in over seven years. [88] [89] She sang "Adeste Fideles" and "Oiche Chiúin" [90] as well as her own carol composition "The Spirit of Christmas Past".

Musical style

"Enya is more than just me. It's also Nicky, who arranges my melodies, and his wife Roma, who writes the lyrics. They believed in my music from day one."

— Enya [91]

Enya's vocal range is mezzo-soprano. [92] She has cited her musical foundations as "the classics", church music, and "Irish reels and jigs" [58] with a particular interest in Sergei Rachmaninoff, [93] a favourite composer of hers. She has an autographed picture of him in her home. [94] Since 1982, she has recorded her music with Nicky Ryan as producer and arranger and his wife Roma Ryan as lyricist. [95] While in Clannad, Enya chose to work with Nicky as the two shared an interest in vocal harmonies, and Ryan, influenced by The Beach Boys and the "Wall of Sound" technique that Phil Spector pioneered, wanted to explore the idea of "the multivocals" for which her music became known. [96] According to Enya, "Angeles" from Shepherd Moons has roughly 500 vocals recorded individually and layered. [97] Enya performs all vocals and the majority of instruments in her songs apart from musicians to play percussion, guitar, uilleann pipes, cornet, and double bass. [95] Her early works including Watermark feature numerous keyboards, including the Yamaha KX88 Master, Yamaha DX7, Oberheim Matrix, Akai S900, Roland D-50, and Roland Juno-60, the latter a particular favourite of hers. [98]

Numerous critics and reviewers classify Enya's albums as new age music and she has won four Grammy Awards in the category. However, Enya does not classify her music as part of the genre. When asked what genre she would classify her music, her reply was "Enya". [95] Nicky Ryan commented on the new age comments: "Initially it was fine, but it's really not new age. Enya plays a whole lot of instruments, not just keyboards. Her melodies are strong and she sings a lot. So I can't see a comparison." [99] The music video to "Caribbean Blue" and the art work to The Memory of Trees feature adapted works from artist Maxfield Parrish. [100]

Enya's logotype, first used in 1988 on the front cover of Watermark Enya logo.svg
Enya's logotype, first used in 1988 on the front cover of Watermark

Enya has sung in ten languages in her career, including English, Irish, Latin, Welsh, Spanish, French and Japanese. [101] She has recorded music influenced by works from fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien, including the instrumental "Lothlórien" from Shepherd Moons. She sang "May It Be" in English and Tolkien's fictional language Quenya, and "Aníron", sang in Tolkien's other language Sindarin, for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring . Her albums Amarantine and Dark Sky Island include songs sung in Loxian, a fictional language created by Roma, that has no official syntax. Its vocabulary was formed by Enya singing the song's notes to which Roma wrote their phonetic spelling. [102]

Enya adopted a composing and songwriting method that has deviated little throughout her career. At the start of the recording process for an album she enters the studio, forgetting about her previous success, fame, and songs of hers that became hits. "If I did that", she said, "I'd have to call it a day". [103] She then develops ideas on the piano, keeping note of any arrangement that can be worked on further. During her time writing, Enya works a five-day week, takes weekends off, and does not work on her music at home. [104] With Irish as her first language, Enya initially records her songs in Irish as she can express "feeling much more directly" than English. [105] After a period of time, Enya presents her ideas to Nicky to discuss what pieces work best, while Roma works in parallel to devise a lyric to the songs. Enya considered "Fallen Embers" from A Day Without Rain a perfect time when the lyrics reflect as to how she felt while writing the song. [103] In 2008, she newly discovered her tendency to write "two or three songs" during the winter months, work on the arrangements and lyrics the following spring and summer, and then work on the next couple of songs when autumn arrives. [104]

Live performances

Enya has never undertaken a concert tour, despite hinting about the idea since the late 1980s and numerous requests from around the world. She claimed that Warner Music and she "did not see eye to eye" initially as the label imagined her performing on stage "with a piano ... maybe two or three synthesiser players and that's it". [20] Enya also explained that the time put into her studio albums causes her to "run overtime", leaving little time to plan for other such projects. [106] She also expressed the difficulty in recreating her studio-oriented sound for the stage. In 1996, Ryan said Enya had received an offer worth almost £500,000 to perform a concert in Japan. [107] In 2016, Enya spoke about the prospect of a live concert when she revealed talks with the Ryans during her three-year break after And Winter Came... (2008) to perform a show at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City that would be simulcast to cinemas worldwide. Before such an event could happen, Nicky suggested that she enter a studio and record "all the hits" live with an orchestra and choir to see how they would sound. [20]

Enya has sung with live and lip synching vocals on various talk and music shows, events, and ceremonies throughout her career, usually during her worldwide press tours for each album. [108] In December 1995, she performed "Anywhere Is" at a Christmas concert at Vatican City with Pope John Paul II in attendance, who met and thanked her for performing. [106] In April 1996, Enya performed the same song during her surprise appearance at the fiftieth birthday celebration for Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden and a fan of Enya's. [56] In 1997, Enya participated in a live Christmas Eve broadcast in London and flew to County Donegal afterwards to join her family for their annual midnight Mass choral performance, [106] in which she partakes each year. [109] In March 2002, she performed "May It Be" with an orchestra at the year's Academy Awards ceremony. Enya and her sisters performed as part of the local choir Cor Mhuire in July 2005 at St. Mary's church in Gweedore during the annual Earagail Arts Festival. [110]

Personal life

Enya's home in Killiney, County Dublin Enya Castle.jpg
Enya's home in Killiney, County Dublin

In 1997, Enya bought Manderley Castle, a Victorian Grade A listed castle home in Killiney, County Dublin for £2.5 million at auction. [111] Formerly known as Victoria and Ayesha Castle, she renamed the castle after the house from the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. [112] In 2009, during her three-year break from music, Enya purchased a home in southern France. [113]

Since the 1980s, Enya has attracted the attention of several stalkers. In 1996, an Italian man who was seen in Dublin wearing a photograph of Enya around his neck stabbed himself outside her parents' pub after being ejected from the premises. [114] In May 2005, Enya applied to spend roughly £250,000 on security improvements, covering gaps in the castle's outer wall and installing bollards and iron railings. [111] Despite these improvements, in October 2005, two people broke into her home; one attacked and tied up one of her maids and left with several of Enya's items after she had raised the alarm in her safe room. [115]

Enya is known for keeping a private lifestyle, saying: "The music is what sells. Not me, or what I stand for ... that's the way I've always wanted it". [106] [116] She is not married and is a surrogate aunt to the Ryans' two daughters. [117] In 1991, she said: "I'm afraid of marriage because I'm afraid someone might want me because of who I am instead of because they loved me ... I wouldn't go rushing into anything unexpected, but I do think a great deal about this". [118] A relationship she had with one man ended in 1997, [56] around the time when she considered taking time out of music to have a family, but found she was putting pressure on herself over the matter and "gone the route I wanted to go". [103] She declares herself as "more spiritual than religious ... I derive from religion what I enjoy." [99]

In 2006, Enya ranked third in a list of the wealthiest Irish entertainers with an estimated fortune of £75 million, and No. 95 in the Sunday Times Rich List of the richest 250 Irish people. [119] The 2016 edition, which listed its top 50 "Music Millionaires of Britain and Ireland", she emerged as the richest female singer with a fortune of £91 million for a place at No. 28. [120]

In 2017 a new species of fish, Leporinus enyae, found in the Orinoco River drainage area, was named after Enya. [121] [122]

Awards and nominations

Billboard Music Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
2001EnyaTop Billboard 200 Artist - FemaleWon
Top New Age ArtistWon
A Day Without Rain Top Internet AlbumNominated
Top New Age AlbumWon
EnyaTop New Age ArtistWon
Top Adult Contemporary ArtistNominated

Grammy Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 "Orinoco Flow" Best New Age Performance [123] Nominated
Best Music Video [124] Nominated
1993 Shepherd Moons Best New Age Album [125] [126] [127] Won
1997 The Memory of Trees Won
2002 A Day Without Rain Won
2003 "May It Be" Best Song Written for Visual Media [128] Nominated
2007 "Drifting" Best Pop Instrumental Performance [129] Nominated
Amarantine Best New Age Album [130] [131] Won
2017 Dark Sky Island Nominated

Japan Gold Disc Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990EnyaNew Artist of the YearWon
1998 Paint the Sky with Stars Best 3 AlbumsWon
2001 A Day Without Rain International Pop Album of the Year [132] Won
2002 Themes from Calmi Cuori Appassionati Best 3 AlbumsWon
2006 Amarantine International Album of the YearWon

World Music Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
2001 EnyaWorld's Best Selling Irish Artist [128] Won
World's Best Selling New Age Artist [128] Won
World's Best Selling Female Artist [128] Won
World's Best Selling Irish Artist [128] Won
YearNominee / workAwardResult
1989Enya Brit Award for Best International Artist [128] Nominated
Brit Award for Best International Female [128] Nominated
IRMA Award for Best Female Irish Artist [128] Won
1990"Orinoco Flow" BMI Award for Citation of Achievement [128] Won
1992EnyaBrit Award for Best International Solo Artist [128] Nominated
IRMA Award for Best Female Irish Artist [128] Won
"Book of Days" Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song Nominated
1998Enya, Nicky Ryan, and Roma Ryan Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement [128] Won
2001 "May It Be" Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Song [128] Won
2001 Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Original Song [128] Won
2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song [128] Nominated
2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song [128] Nominated
2002Enya American Music Award for Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist [128] Nominated
"Only Time" ECHO Award for Best Single of the Year (International) [128] Won
BDSCertified Spin Awards - 300,000 SpinsWon
2003"Only Time"BMI Award for Citation of Achievement [128] Won
2005"I Don't Wanna Know"Won
2016 Dark Sky Island ECHO Award for Best Female of the Year (International) [128] Nominated


Studio albums

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>A Day Without Rain</i> 2000 studio album by Enya

A Day Without Rain is the fifth studio album by the Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released on 20 November 2000 by WEA Records in Europe and 21 November 2000 by Reprise Records in the United States. Following a promotional tour in support of her compilation album Paint the Sky with Stars (1997), Enya took a short break before she resumed writing and recording a new album in 1998 with her usual recording partners, producer and arranger Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. In a musical departure from her previous albums, Enya incorporates a string section which was not a conscious decision.

<i>Watermark</i> (Enya album) 1988 studio album by Enya

Watermark is the second studio album by Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released on 19 September 1988 by WEA Records, 10 January 1989 by Geffen Records and 11 December 1991 by Reprise Records. After the release of her previous album Enya (1987), she secured a recording contract with Warner after a chance meeting with chairman Rob Dickins, who had become a fan of her music. Her contract allowed her considerable artistic and creative freedom, with minimal interference from the label and no deadlines to have albums finished. Enya recorded Watermark in ten months with her longtime collaborators, manager, producer and arranger Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. It was initially recorded in Ireland in demo form before production relocated to London to re-record, mix, and master it digitally. Watermark features music in different styles, displaying Enya's sound of multi-tracked vocals with keyboards, percussion instruments, and elements of Celtic, ambient, and New-age music, though Enya believes her music does not belong in the latter genre.

<i>Shepherd Moons</i> 1991 studio album by Enya

Shepherd Moons is the third studio album by Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released by 4 November 1991 by WEA Records in Europe and 19 November 1991 by Reprise Records in the United States. After the unexpected critical and commercial success of her previous album Watermark (1988), Enya embarked on a worldwide promotional tour to support it. At its conclusion, she proceeded to write and rehearse new material for her next album with her long time recording partners, manager, arranger and producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. The album was recorded in Ireland and London and continued to display Enya's sound of multi-tracked vocals with keyboards and elements of celtic and new-age music, though Enya believes her music does not belong in the latter genre.

<i>The Memory of Trees</i> 1995 studio album by Enya

The Memory of Trees is the fourth studio album by the Irish singer, songwriter, and musician Enya, released on 20 November 1995 by WEA. After travelling worldwide to promote her previous album Shepherd Moons (1991), and contributing to film soundtracks, Enya took a short break before she started writing and recording a new album in 1993 with her longtime recording partners, arranger and producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. The album is Enya's first to be recorded entirely in Ireland, and covers themes that include Irish and Druid mythology, the idea of one's home, journeys, religion, dreams and love. Enya continues to display her sound of multi-tracked vocals with keyboards and elements of Celtic and new age music, though Enya does not consider her music to be in the latter genre. She sings in English, Irish, Latin and Spanish.

<i>Paint the Sky with Stars</i> 1997 greatest hits album by Enya

Paint the Sky with Stars – The Best of Enya is the first greatest hits album by Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released on 3 November 1997 by WEA Records in Europe and 11 November 1997 by Reprise Records in the United States. Following her worldwide promotional tour in support of her previous album The Memory of Trees (1995), Enya began selecting tracks for a compilation album in early 1997 as her recording contract with Reprise Records permitted her to do so. The album contains songs from her debut album Enya (1987) to The Memory of Trees (1995) and two new tracks, "Paint the Sky with Stars" and "Only If...".

Evening Falls... 1989 single by Enya

"Evening Falls..." is a song by Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya. It was released in December 1988. It was released as the second single and as well as the eighth track from their second studio album, Watermark (1988). It is a new-age track that was written by Enya and Roma Ryan and produced by Nicky Ryan.

Anywhere Is single

"Anywhere Is" is a song by Irish singer Enya, taken from her fourth studio album The Memory of Trees. It became a top-ten hit in Austria, Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

May It Be 2002 song by Enya

"May It Be" is a song by Irish recording artist Enya. It was composed by Enya and Roma Ryan for Peter Jackson's 2001 film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The song entered the German Singles Chart at number one in 2002 and was performed by Enya at the 74th Academy Awards. "May It Be" was acclaimed from music critics and received nominations for Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, Academy Award for Best Original Song and Grammy Award nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media.

<i>Amarantine</i> (album) 2005 studio album by Enya

Amarantine is the sixth studio album by Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released on 21 November 2005 by Warner Bros. Records in Europe and 22 November 2005 by Reprise Records in the United States. Following the release of her compilation box set Only Time – The Collection (2002), Enya took a short break before she started work on a new album in September 2003, her first since A Day Without Rain (2000). Amarantine was recorded in Ireland with her longtime recording partners, arranger and producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. It marked Enya's first album without a song recorded in the Irish language, and her first sung in Japanese and Loxian, a fictional language created by Roma.

Loxian is a fictional artistic language and alphabet created by Irish poet and lyricist Roma Ryan. A longtime recording and business partner of Irish singer-songwriter and musician Enya, she created the language during the production of the latter's sixth studio album, Amarantine (2005).

Roma Shane Ryan is a Northern Irish writer, poet, and lyricist, currently living in Artane, Ireland, with her husband Nicky.

<i>Sounds of the Season: The Enya Holiday Collection</i> 2006 EP by Enya

Sounds of the Season with Enya is the fourth extended play (EP) from the Irish singer, songwriter, and musician Enya, released on 28 November 2006 exclusively in the United States in Target stores by Rhino Custom Products and NBC Universal. The EP is a collection of six Christmas songs, four of which were included in the Special Christmas Edition of Enya's sixth studio album, Amarantine (2005). It was renamed Christmas Secrets EP for its four-track Canadian release by Warner Bros. and Warner Music Canada.

<i>Only Time – The Collection</i> 2002 box set by Enya

Only Time – The Collection is a box set from Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released in November 2002. The set contains 51 tracks across four discs that spans her 1987 debut album Enya through her 2002 single "May It Be". A 48-page booklet with liner notes and lyrics by her longtime lyricist Roma Ryan is included. The video of "Oíche Chiúin" is also included on the fourth disc, the performance comes from the BBC programme Christmas Day in the Morning and was recorded at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. In addition to this computer playable video, there is also a screensaver in the cover art motif and a slideshow of pictures from the booklet. This release was a limited worldwide release of 200,000, with US sales of over 60,000 copies. The selection of songs was made by Enya, Nicky and Roma.

<i>And Winter Came…</i> 2008 studio album by Enya

And Winter Came... is the seventh studio album from the Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya, released on 10 November 2008 by Warner Bros. Records in Europe and 11 November 2008 by Reprise Records in the United States. After recording some new Christmas songs for her fourth extended play, Sounds of the Season with Enya (2006), Enya proceeded to write and record a Christmas album of traditional carols and original Christmas songs, but the idea was changed to an album of songs with a Christmas or winter theme. It was recorded in Ireland with her longtime collaborators, arranger and producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan.

<i>The Very Best of Enya</i> 2009 greatest hits album by Enya

The Very Best of Enya is the second greatest hits album by the Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya. It was released on 23 November 2009 by Warner Bros. Records in Europe and 1 December 2009 by Reprise Records in the United States. After promoting her previous studio album And Winter Came... (2008), Warner Music asked Enya to release a new compilation of her favourite songs of her career, and chose a selection with her longtime collaborators, producer and arranger Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan.

<i>Dark Sky Island</i> 2015 studio album by Enya

Dark Sky Island is the eighth studio album by Irish singer, songwriter, and musician Enya, released on 20 November 2015. After the release of her previous album, And Winter Came... (2008), Enya was unsure of her next career move so she decided to take break from music which lasted four years. In the spring of 2012 she started to write and record new material for a new album with her longtime collaborators, producer and arranger Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan. Enya gained inspiration for the title track and the album from the 2011 designation of Sark in the Channel Islands as a dark-sky preserve and a collection of Roma Ryan's poems on islands.

"Echoes in Rain" is a single by Irish musician Enya, the first to be taken from the album Dark Sky Island. It was released on 9 October 2015 by Warner Music.


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