The Very Best of Enya CD DVD version

Enya biography, profile and FAQ


Enya in 2007 Grammy Awards (Show bigger image).

Enya, birth name Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin, sometimes presented in the media as Enya Brennan, was born on 17 May 1961, in Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland, and is a four-time Grammy Award-winning singer, an Academy Award-nominated songwriter, and Ireland's best-selling solo artist (her record sales stand at 80 million as of 2009). She lives in a small castle in Ireland and is not married.

As a musical group, Enya is a collaboration 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 is an approximate transcription of how Eithne is pronounced in her native Irish, in the Donegal dialect. "Eithne" comes from Irish mythology and was chosen by Enya's grandfather, what's quite funny when you read the legend behind it.

Contents

Musical upbringing and Clannad

Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin was born in Gweedore, County Donegal, in Ireland in 1961 to a musical family, the fifth of nine children. 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 the Gweedore Comprehensive School. Enya has four brothers and four sisters, several of whom formed the band An Clann As Dobhar in 1968. They renamed the band Clannad, which means "family", in the 1970s.

In 1980, Enya worked with Clannad, then 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 albums Crann Úll (1980) and Fuaim (1981), although she was never officially a member of the group. 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.

Solo career

Enya in music video for "I Want Tomorrow", from the soundtrack of  The Celts documentary.

Enya recorded two solo instrumental songs called "An Ghaoth Ón Ghrian" ("The Solar Wind") and "Miss Clare Remembers" that were released on the 1983 demo tape 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 vocals on Sinéad O'Connor's debut album, The Lion and the Cobra. The title of the album is a partial English translation of Enya's Gaelic reading of Psalms 91:11-13 on 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.

International breakthrough

Enya achieved a breakthrough in her career in 1988 with the album Watermark, which featured the hit song "Orinoco Flow" (sometimes known as "Sail Away"). "Orinoco Flow" topped the charts in the United Kingdom, and the 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, featuring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.

In 1992 a remastered version of the Enya album was released, called The Celts and including a longer, modified version of "Portrait (Out of the Blue)". Four years after Shepherd Moons, she released the Grammy-winning The Memory of Trees (1995).

In 1997, Enya released her greatest hits collection, Paint The Sky With Stars: The Best of Enya, which featured two new songs: "Paint the Sky With Stars" and "Only If...".

The biography continues below ↓

Return and A Day Without Rain

Following a five-year break, she released the Grammy winning A Day Without Rain in 2000. The album is Enya's most successful to date, peaking at #2 on the US Billboard Album charts. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, her song "Only Time" (from A Day Without Rain) 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 released a special edition of the song with funds going to the families of victims. Many Enya fans, however, are resentful that her music has been linked with the attacks; an example of this occurred on a 2002 appearance on CNN's Larry King Live when images of battle in Afghanistan were shown on screen as she performed "May It Be," a song with little war connection, featured in The Lord Of The Ring: The Fellowship Of The Ring movie soundtrack.

Enya is self-admittedly a slow worker when it comes to composing music, therefore fans have had to wait as long as five years between albums. In September 2004, a new song, set to words from a Japanese poem Roma Ryan had written and called "Sumiregusa" ("Wild Violet") 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 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.

Recent Releases

In November of 2005, a new album, entitled Amarantine, was released. It won the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for 2007. In the following year, 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" ("Silent Night") and "Amid the Falling Snow", new recordings of the standards "Adeste Fideles" ("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". Sounds of the Season was released only in the United States in an partnership with the NBC television network and the Target department store chain.

In later November two new editions of Amarantine were released. In North America, 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 UK received a deluxe version of this release (Amarantine - The UK Special 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 only contained the four new songs.

Enya in 2007 Grammy Awards.

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. No release occurred at that time.

By mid-2007, Enya 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. The ceremony for six total recipients was held at noon. Shortly after, on July 10, 2007, Enya received a second honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster.

Also in 2007, Enya MP3 was made availabe in Amazon.com.

Musical style and other projects

On her latest album, Amarantine, Enya sings in Japanese and Loxian, a language invented by Roma Ryan. A number of Enya's songs are sung entirely in Irish or Latin, while most of her songs are sung in English. 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", and "Aníron", 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, but she has yet to do a concert. She has said, though, that she would love to do it some day, and would consider it to be a great challenge.

Personal life

Enya in a promotional photo for the Amarantine album (Show bigger image).

Enya is not married. She tries to keep her personal life apart from her musical career, even spending an estimated € 250,000 on security measures for her home, Manderley Castle, in County Dublin. (The castle even has an article in Wikipedia.) 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 (£ 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 is catholic. She singed for the Pope John Paul II (who was her fan).

Favourites

  • Movies: old black & white (Rebecca by Hitchcock)
  • Book: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (her favourite character is Frodo)
  • Music: classical (Rachmaninoff, Debussy)
    "I was asked the question 'What was the first single you ever bought?' and I thought 'I have never bought a single or an album'. Even as a teenager!It's strange. I don't like listening to music. People find it hard to understand that."
  • Her own songs: Marble Halls, On Your Shore, Smaointe..., Fallen Embers, Amarantine, If I Could Be Where You Are
  • Fashion designer: Maria Grachvogel (she designed the dress that Enya wore to Amarantine launch party)
  • Food: Italian, French, Indian
    "I don't eat red meat. I eat fish and lots of vegetables. I've been told I'm a very good cook but take forever to prepare one meal. Everything has to be absolutely perfect and nobody is allowed into the kitchen."
  • Drink: champagne and very dry white wine
  • Pets: "I don't have pets, I have two guard dogs."
    "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."

Trivia

  • The asteroid "6433 Enya", discovered on November 18, 1978 by A. Mrkos at Klet, is named after her.
  • In 1997, Enya bought a small Victorian castle located in Killiney, Dublin. The castle, which was built in 1840 by Robert Warren, was originally named "Victoria Castle" after Queen Victoria. Enya renamed it "Manderley Castle". The name comes from the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, whose story is set in Manderley. More in Wikipedia.
  • Enya has her own studio named "Aigle"—French for "Eagle".
  • Her hobbies include watching romantic black and white films, collecting artwork, reading, painting.

Awards

Enya has won four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album to date:

  1. Grammy Awards of 1993, Best New Age Album for Shepherd Moons
  2. Grammy Awards of 1997, Best New Age Album for The Memory of Trees
  3. Grammy Awards of 2002, Best New Age Album for A Day Without Rain
  4. Grammy Awards of 2007, Best New Age Album for Amarantine

Also, "May It Be", for The Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring, 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.

She also won many other awards, like:

  • IRMA Awards: "Best Female Irish Artist" in 1989 and 1993.
  • World Music Awards: "Best Solo Irish Artist" and "Best New Age Artist" (2001); Best-selling Female Artist, Best-selling New Age Artist and Best-selling Irish artist (2002), and "Best-selling Irish artist" (2006).

Frequently Asked Question

Enya in her 2005 music video "Amarantine".

Who is Eithne? How to pronounce Eithne?

Eithne is Enya's true name. Enya is phonetic spelling for Eithne (pronounced as ehn-ya). She chose to alter her name because as an artist she wanted to work under her own name, yet knew how many people would have difficulties in pronouncing her Irish name correctly.

Why do some people use Eithne and not Enya?

Eithne is generally used to refer to the woman, whereas Enya is used to refer to all three people who are involved with the music: Eithne, Nicky and Roma Ryan.

Who are Roma and Nicky Ryan?

Nicky and Roma are a married couple that have managed Enya's career since the beginning of her solo career. Nicky is the producer/arranger/manager and Roma is the lyricist. Nicky Ryan had previously managed Clannad.

Who is Clannad and what relationship do they have with Enya?

Clannad is a popular Irish family band consisting of Enya's twin uncles, Patrick Duggan and Noel Duggan, her brother, Ciaran Brennan, and her sister, Moya Brennan. Her brother, Paul Brennan, left the band in 1989 or 1990 to pursue another musical career.

Who is Moya Brennan and what relationship does she have with Enya?

Moya is Enya's older sister. Like Enya, she also has a solo career, but is still involved with Clannad these days.

Who is Aigle?

Aigle is the name of the recording studio of Enya, but also refers to the Enya, Roma and Nicky Ryan collectively and and their employees as well.

What colour are Enya's eyes?

Enya's eyes appear to be several different colors, blue, green, brown, and hazel, depending upon the different photos or videos. It is possible she may wear coloured lenses for the photo/video shoots. People generally agree Enya's eyes are probably not blue or brown, but either hazel or grey-ish.

Is Enya married? She wears a ring.

Enya is NOT married. The rings she wears on her hand are a Claddagh ring and a wedding band. Both of these belonged to her grandmother who has passed away.

What is her address?

Enya is highly protective of her privacy. Messages sent to her home will most likely NOT be answered or even read. Please send all your letters to Warner Music at the following address:

Enya
c/o Warner Music UK
The Warner Building
28 Kensington Church St.
London W8 4EP
UNITED KINGDOM

Enya looks so beautiful! How does she manage that? Does she have a special diet?

Most photos we see of Enya are the photos in the album booklets, or photos from magazines. As it is with all artists, Enya wears cosmetics in these photos, and sometimes the photos might be retouched to create a certain look. She rarely eats red meat, prefers fish, and likes a glass of red wine from time to time.

Does Enya really do all the instruments and vocals herself?

Yes, Enya does all of the vocals and instruments herself, except where stated. besides the piano, Enya plays some of the strings and percussions, but some of these are also synthesized.

Is all the music on Enya's albums composed only by her?

Yes, most of it. Enya did only 5 arrangements of traditional songs. "Marble Halls" is originally a piece from Balfe's opera The Bohemian Girl. "How Can I Keep from Singing?" is a traditional Shaker's hymn, and "Oiche Chiun" (Silent Night), "Adeste, Fideles" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" are Christmas carols.

Some of Enya's songs are not in English, what language are they?

Enya sings in Gaelic (her native tongue), English, Latin, Spanish, Japanese, Welsh, French, as well as Quenya and Sindarin, two languages invented by J.R.R. Tolkien. In her most recent album Amarantine, Enya uses a fictional language called Loxian.

  • Irish Gaelic: "March of the Celts", "The Celts", "Aldebaran", "Deireadh An Tuath", "Triad (St. Patrick)", "Storms In Africa", "The Longships", "Na Laetha Geal M'Óige", "Oiche Chiun", "Ebudae", "Book of Days", "Smaointe", "Athair Ar Neamh", "'S Fagaim Mo Bhaile", "As Baile", "Deora Ar Mo Chroí"
  • French: part of "Only If"
  • Japanese: "Sumiregusa"
  • Latin: "Cursum Perficio", "Afer Ventus", "Pax Deorum", "Tempus Vernum", "Adeste, Fideles"
  • Spanish: "La Sonadora"
  • Welsh: "Dan y Dwr"
  • Sindarin: "Aníron"
  • Quenya: part of "May It Be"
  • Loxian: "Less Than A Pearl", "The River Sings", "Water Shows The Hidden Heart"

What is Loxian?

Loxian is a fictional language created by Roma Ryan. The language was created especially for Enya's music because Gaelic, Latin or English didn't seem to fit the particular mood of certain songs. The idea to create a fictional language was inspired by the previous use of Tolkien's fictional languages Quenya and Sindarin, used in the songs for the Lord of The Rings soundtrack. Roma Ryan has written a book called Water Shows the Hidden Heart about the how and why of Loxian.

Was that Enya I heard? Is this song really an Enya song?

Enya Lyrics lists every song that Enya has written, sung, or performed; look under the complete list of Enya songs. Be aware that several illegal sites and P2Ps networks offer songs which often wrongly attribute songs to Enya. For example, "Now We Are Free", "Gladiator Theme", "Harry's Game", and "Love Song" are often wrongly listed as Enya's music. A list of mislabeled songs can be found in the Enya Forum.

How many records has she sold?

Enya has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide. Her best selling album to date is A Day Without Rain which has sold more than 12 million copies. The latest release Amarantine sold over 4 million discs in its first year of sale.

On what occasions did Enya perform? Was it a live performance or lip-synced?

  • "Dulaman" - Live with Clannad (Celtic Folk Festival, Utrecht, The Netherlands) - 13 February 1982 (Live)
  • "Horo Gheallaid" - Live with Clannad (Celtic Folk Festival, Utrecht, The Netherlands) - 13 February 1982 (Live)
  • "Orinoco Flow" - Top of the Pops - 20 October 1988 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Oiche Chiuin" - Sunday, Sunday - December 1988 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Na Laetha Geal Moige" and "On Your Shore" - Homeward Bound - 18 May 1989 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Carribean Blue" - Top of the Pops - 17 October 1991 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Book of Days" - Top of the Pops - 23 July 1992 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Anywhere is" - Top of the Pops - 16 November 1995 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Anywhere is" - Top of the Pops - 30 November 1995 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Anywhere Is" - Concerto di Natale in Vatican - 1995 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Anywhere Is" - Hey Hey Its Saturday - during the TMOT 1996 promotional tour (Lip-synced with live percussion)
  • "Oiche Chiuin" - BBC1 Television Programme Christmas Day in the Morning - 25 December 1996 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Marble Halls" & "Only If"- The Kenny Show - 15 November 1997 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Only If" - Late Show with David Letterman - 1997 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Only If" - Royal Variety Performance - 1997 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Only Time" - Children in Need Fundraiser - 2000 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Only Time" - Pure Oxygen - 11 December 2000 (Live)
  • "Only Time" - Jay Leno - 2000 (Live)
  • "Only Time" - Live with Regis - 2000 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Only Time" - World Music Awards - 2 May 2001 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Only Time" - Larry King Live - 2001 (Live)
  • "Only Time" - The View - 2001 (Live)
  • "Only Time" - Music Fair - 2001 (Lip-Synced)
  • "Wild Child" - San Remo Festival - March 2001 (Live)
  • "Wild Child" - Japanese Performance - Date Unknown (Live)
  • "May It Be" - Larry King Live - 23 January 2002 (Live)
  • "May It Be" - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - 17 January 2002 (Live)
  • "May It Be" - World Music Awards - 6 March 2002 (Lip-Synced)
  • "May It Be" - World Music Awards - 6 March 2002 (Lip-Synced)
  • "May It Be" - Academy Awards - 24 March 2002 (Live)
  • Brennan Family Tribute - 13 July 2005 (Family Event) (Live)
  • Amarantine updates available soon

Does Enya tour? Are there any planned appearances on TV, signing sessions...

Enya has done promotional tours to promote her albums and has performed in a live setting on a few television programs. She has not toured since 1980, when she toured with Clannad. And although Enya spoke about the possibility of touring in several interviews, there have never been any signs of an upcoming tour. Enya does make appearances on TV, radio... More info on her official forums.

See also:

Browse Enya Lyrics

Enya aStore at Amazon.com, with MP3, CDs, DVDs, New Age, sheet music, Celtic Woman