Enya (actually, Eithne Ni Bhraonain)

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Enya (actually, Eithne Ni Bhraonain)

Enya (actually, Eithne Ni Bhraonain ), Irish vocalist, one of the biggest stars of “new-age” music; b. Gweedore, Donegal, May 17, 1961. When Enya was seven years old, her siblings Cioaran and Po and her uncles Padraig and Noel O Dugain formed a folk group An Clann As Dobhar. Her sister Maire (aka Marie Brennan) joined several years later and the group became known as Clannad. Enya joined the family business in 1980, playing keyboards and doing some backing vocals. When the group severed relations with producer Nicky Ryan, Enya went to work with Ryan and his wife Roma.

She started getting work on soundtracks, contributing to David Puttnam/s 1984 film The Frog Prince and the BBC television series The Celts in 1986. Although she left Clannad partly due to a disagreement about modernizing their sound, her own music leaned heavily on atmospheric synthesizers.

The Celts caught the attention of Warner Music U.K. Signed to the label, she recorded Watermark, which became an international hit, reaching #25 and going quadruple-platinum in the U.S., largely on the success of the single “Orinoco Flow,” which topped off at #24 pop, but was very successful on the new wave format radio stations. Her follow-up, 19917s Shepherd Moons, was even more successful, hitting #17 on the charts and eventually selling quintuple-platinum without benefit of a hit single, and won her a Best New Age Album Grammy Award. This led to more sales of her U.S. debut as well.

Her 1995 album Memory of Trees also took home a Best New Age Grammy. It entered the U.S. charts at #9 and quickly went double platinum. The re- release of The Celts, now on her label, also went platinum. Her 1998 best of album went platinum out of the box. Enya remains one of the most popular artists in the new age bins, easily outselling the bulk of the artists with whom she shares shelf space.

Discography

Enya (The Celts) (1987); Watermark (1988); Shepherd Moons (1991); Memory of Trees (1995); Frogprince (1995); On My Way Home (1996); Storms in Africa (1989).

—Hank Bordowitz