Back in the 1980s, a friend played for me a cassette tape called ‘Watermark’. The title composition featured a simple piano melody with lush, overlaid harmonies, and no vocals. There was nothing else like it at the time, and I was hooked immediately.
“Who was this group?”, I wondered.
I turns out that ‘Enya’ was actually three people: Eithne “Enya” Patricia Ní Bhraonáin (composition, keyboards, and vocals); Roma Shane “Rogue” Ryan (lyrics); and Nicholas Dominick “Nicky” Ryan (producer, audio engineer). They first met in 1978, when Eithne was providing keyboards and back-up vocals for her family’s traditional Irish band, “Clannad”. Since then, under the name ‘Enya’, the trio has released 7 studio albums and 3 compilation albums, for a total of over 100 musical pieces and videos.
A quick perusal of the discography reveals that the trio releases roughly 12 songs every four years. This is about 1 song every four months. The last CD was released in 2008, and featured seasonal music for the holidays. Unfortunately, not all of these pieces were original (although Eithne admirably translated the lyrics to “Silent Night” into Gaeleigh as “Oíche Chiúin”).
What now? Enya does not tour, nor do Eithne, Nicky or Roma give many interviews. Even Unity, the official Enya website, provides very little in the way of communication from the trio to their fans, and it is the fans who are forced to provide news of the trio’s actions — such as the recent news that Eithne had written an article for Irish Roots Magazine (Issue #75: “Enya Recalls a Special Day That Would change Her Life Forever”).
Eithne turns 50 soon (May 17, 2011). Maybe, like many of us entering into our “Golden Years”, Ms. Bhraonáin is less concerned about engaging in the creative process that launched her to stardom than she is in simply resting upon her laurels and enjoying her accomplishments. I mean, what else is there left to achieve once you’ve won four Grammy awards, two honorary doctorates, and you live in a genuine Irish castle on the outskirts of Dublin? What would be the point of yet another album, featuring the same old gong intro, the same piano riffs, and the same vocal layerings that we’ve heard on every previous album?
But then, it’s always been about Eithne, hasn’t it?