Enya (born Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin on May 17 1961, Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal, Ireland, sometimes presented in the media as Enya Brennan, is an Irish singer, instrumentalist and composer. She is Ireland's best-selling solo artist and is officially the country's second biggest musical export (after U2). Her works have earned her four Grammy Awards and an Academy Award nomination, and she is also famous for performing in 10 different languages during her lengthy career. Enya is an approximate transcription of how Eithne is pronounced in her native Irish, in the Donegal dialect.
In 1980, Enya worked with Clannad, the band composed of her siblings Máire (Moya), Pól, and Ciarán and twin uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan. Enya played the keyboard and provided backing vocals on their album Crann Úll (1980), although she was not officially a member of the group until the 1981 release Fuaim, when she appeared on the cover. 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".
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 US, when it peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 in 2004).
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 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 Grammy-winning 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 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 Kyrkjebø, 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" ("Oíche Chiúin") 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.
Following a five-year break, she released the Grammy winning A Day Without Rain in 2000 featuring 37 minutes of new material (34 minutes on the US version). The album is Enya's most successful to date, peaking at #2 on the US Billboard Album charts. The first single Only Time was used in the film Sweet November and released to AC radio in late 2000. In May 2001, NBC began using "Only Time" in the background of their commercials for their hit show Friends, which helped the song get airplay on top-40 radio. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, "Only Time" was used as a backdrop in many radio and TV reports about the attacks. She initially frowned upon this use, especially when many bootlegged versions of "Only Time" mixed with sound effects from the attack began to appear.
Enya eventually agreed to release a special edition of the song, and a maxi-single was issued on November 20, 2001 featuring a pop mix of the song, with funds going to the families of victims. Some purists objected to this version's additional percussion, which transformed the original from a slow, haunting ballad to almost techno proportions. Only Time peaked at #10 on the US Hot 100, #12 on the Pop Chart and hit #1 on the AC and Hot Adult Contemporary charts. Although the terror attacks had been in the US, it was Germany where an even more unbelievable Enya fever was going on: After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Only time sensationally re-entered the German single charts at number 1 and the album A day without rain also topped the charts some weeks later. Enya won the prestigious Echo Award for best selling international single 2001 on the German market and received a second nomination for best selling album. Despite the huge success of this records in both the US and Germany, it was a strange thing that nothing similar happened in the UK or other big markets such as France or Australia.
In 2001, Enya recorded May It Be, a song from the immensely successful Fellowship of the Ring, first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Whereas in the UK it hardly reached the Top 50, her new peak of incredible popularity in Germany continued: May It Be became the second Enya single in a row to enter the German charts at number 1. The video also showed scenes from the Oscar-nominated Peter Jackson film.
Enya is self-admittedly a slow worker when it comes to composing music. As a result, fans have had to wait as long as five years between albums. A new song called "Sumiregusa" ("Wild Violet") was set to words from a Japanese poem Roma Ryan had written. In September 2004, the song was unveiled in Japan as part of an advertising campaign for Panasonic. In announcing the new recording, Warner Music Japan stated that Enya's next album was scheduled for release (in Japan at least) 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.
In 2006, Enya released several Christmas-themed CDs with newly recorded material. On October 10, 2006, Sounds of the Season was released containing six songs: the previously released "Oíche Chiúin" (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 "Oíche Chiúin" is a recording dating back to 1988, which had already been featured on numerous collections). The US 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 November 2, 2006. On November 16, 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 70 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 June 29, 2007, Enya received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Shortly after, on July 10, 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.
On September 12th, 2008, Enya officially announced on her new website that a new album, And Winter Came..., will come out on November 10th, 2008, and in some places it will be on the next day, the 11th. The album is a Christmas and Winter themed album.
On September 29 2008, the BBC Radio 2 show Wake up to Wogan was given the world exclusive and aired the new song "Trains And Winter Rains", which will also be Enya's first new studio single accompanying her new album.
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. 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, specifically the Roland D-50. Her trademark sound is achieved by layering her voice as much as eighty times. She has stated in an interview that she has once dubbed her voice to about five hundred 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. She can be classified as a mezzo-soprano.)
On her latest 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 "Lothlórien" (instrumental), 2001's "May It Be" (sung in English and Quenya), and "Aníron" (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".
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 2007, 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.
In 2006, Enya made it to the number three spot in the ranks of wealthy UK and 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. She was also Ireland's richest woman at one stage.
Enya joins her mother's choir every Christmas in Gaoth Dobhair, and defines herself as a devout Roman Catholic Church member, having played for the Christmas events in Rome, in the presence of the late Pope John Paul II.
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 painting.
Enya has won four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album to date: