Eithne (Enya) Ni Bhraonain was born on May 17,1961 in Donegal, Ireland. She is the daughter of Leo and Maira Bhraonain and is the youngest of five children. Her father, Leo, is a band leader and a musician as well. Her mother, Maira, is a music teacher at Gweedore Comprehensive School in Donegal. From ages 11 to 17, Eithne attended Millford Covenant College, majoring in music and art; taking lots of interest in "watercolour landscapes." After college, she adopted the name "Enya," which is the English phonetic spelling of her real name.
Enya's music career began in 1979 when she joined the already formed band, "Clannad" which means "family." The band consisted of two of her three brothers, Pol and Ciaron; her sister Mair, and her two uncles, Noel and Padraig. Enya did the keyboards and backing vocals. Clannad was managed by Nicky Ryan, who is also a record producer; and his wife, Roma, who is a poet of Irish legends and folklore. Nicky Ryan has a concept of "layering" vocals, and Enya loved this. So in 1982, Enya, Nicky, and Roma Ryan left Clannad to work together on their own. The first thing they did was put together the theme for the movie, "the Frog Prince" which was released in 1984. Then they put together the soundtrack for the movie, "the Celts," a movie about the history of the Irish, which was released in 1987. Enya's music can also be heard in movies such as "Green Card," "L.A. Story," "Toys," "Age of Innocence," and "Far and Away."
Enya has a rather different kind of character and I just can't seem to find the words to best fit her personality in general. I guess "introverted" would be a good one because she seems to be very closed off in her own little world, tends to be annoyed by interviews, hardly ever leaves home in Donegal, and wouldn't go on tour if her life depended on it. Enya quotes in the 01/29/96 issue of People Magazine, "People don't know what I'm all about because I prefer to keep that to myself. There are a lot of artists who are bigger than their music, but for me it's the other way around."
Enya has her own unique way of playing her music. Her background is based mostly on "Classical," and that is partly the reason she left Clannad in the first place; as their background was mostly that of traditional Irish songs. Enya quotes in the 01/11/92 issue of Billboard Magazine, "I find it hard to work with other musicians because I know from experience that when they play, they play with their feeling, and that restricts me because I know I want to play in my own particular way."
Enya's melodies tend to reflect her feelings and she has NO desire for writing the lyrics to her songs. However Roma Ryan, who is also Enya's dearest friend, knows her so well that she is able to tell exactly just what Enya is trying to say in her melodies, so Roma is the one who writes the lyrics, NOT Enya. Enya quotes in the 11/25/95 issue of Billboard Magazine, "People can conjure in their own way what I'm all about, by my music."
Enya also has a tendency to stay scarce when she is composing. She doesn't talk about her music and does not listen to any other music whatsoever during the time she is composing because she is afraid that it will have a negative effect on her creativity. Again in Billboard Magazine, she comes across as it being a "sin" to listen to music while composing by stating, "Some people think I'm a snob, but I strongly feel that I'm just not being creative to listen to other music while I'm working."
To date, Enya has five major albums on the market. Her first one, "the Celts," was released in 1987; and then revised and re-released again in 1992. Her second album, "Watermark," was released in 1988 and contained her first world-wide smash single, "Orinoco Flow." This album stayed on the Billboard Top 200 for 142 weeks and over 7.5 million copies have been sold so far. Her third album, "Shepherd Moons," containing some of the most enchanting, haunting, and spiritual melodies of our time, was released in 1991 an stayed on the Billboard Top 200 for 138 weeks and has sold over eight million copies so far. Her fourth album, "the Memory of Trees," was released in December of 1995 and stayed on the Billboard Top 200 for 129 weeks and has sold over five million copies to date. Finally, her fifth album, "Paint the Sky With Stars," was released in 1997. This is a "Greatest Hits" album with 16 tracks, containing two new releases, "Only If..." and "Paint the Sky With Stars."
Singing in Gaelic and Latin as well as English, Enya draws on her twin Celtic and Catholic heritages to conjure up achingly beautiful songs that wonderfully express the yearnings of the soul. Her piano and synthesizers, along with occasional additional instrumentation, provide graceful orchestrations that give wings to her songs, drawing the listener into her musical vision of mystery and redemption. Enya is in her own class - - a true phenomenon...