Talk about the perfect oxymoron, Enya is as famous as she is reclusive. There is no other musician on the planet who has reached the heights the Irish singer has attained without ever selling any concerts – ever. As Ireland’s biggest ever selling solo artist with over 75 million albums sold, Enya is definitely an enigma.
The multi-award winning songstress started participating in music events, and festivals at the young age of three. She owes a lot of her success to her parents, extended family and her extremely musically influenced upbringing.
Enya’s early life in Ireland
Enya was born in a predominantly Irish speaking part of Ireland, on May 17, 1961, as Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin (anglicised as Enya Patricia Brennan). Her father and mother, Leo and Máire both played in an Irish showband called Slieve Foy Band. While Leo also ran a tavern, Máire was a music instructor at Gweedore Community School, in Gweedore, a town where her maternal grandfather was the founder of its local theatre.
At the age of 3, Enya participated in a singing competition at the Feis Coecil, an annual music festival. She was also doing musical comedies at her grandfather’s theatre and singing in her mother’s choir at St. Mary’s Church in Derryberg. She also started playing the piano and learning English at four years old. At eleven years old, her father shipped her off to a strict convent boarding school. Here she developed a passion for the classical music and art. She would eventually pursue classical music for one college year in hopes of being a piano teacher as she was never a fan of being on stage.
After college, she joined her family’s band Clannad, on the invitation of the band’s manager Nicky Ryan. She played on the keyboard for the band and was a backup vocalist. Two albums later, Nicky began to notice her musically independent streak. This led to Enya, Nicky, and his wife Roma leaving the Clannad in 1982 to help build the songstress’s solo career. They scraped together some money to build a recording facility, Aigle Studio.
Music Career and Private Life
Enya’s first solo performance came in 1983, at the National Stadium in Dublin for an RTE music show called Festival Folk. At the time, Enya was still very nervous about public appearances and almost did not get on the stage. In 1984, two of Enya’s piano instrumentals were included in a collection album from artists under a recording label called Touch.
Her portfolio continued to rise as she penned nine tracks for the 1984 romantic film comedy, The Frog Prince. The movie soundtrack – where she was first credited as Enya – was released commercially the following year under Island Visual Arts. She then wrote the entire soundtrack for BBC2’s documentary series The Celts. This was released in the UK in 1987 by BBC Records (and Atlantic Records in the US) as her first solo album titled Enya. The album was relatively successful, hitting No.69 on the UK Albums Chart. She also received a settlement of $3 million after she threatened legal action against The Fugees for sampling her single without permission and without giving her credit.
The success of the album led to her signing a £75,000 deal with Warner Music UK. The label gave her artistic freedom, with minimal label interference and no set deadlines. Her first album under the label, Watermark, was released in 1988 to unprecedented success. It peaked at number 5 on the UK charts and No.25 on the Billboard 200 in the United States. This put pressure on her for her second album, Shepherd Moons, which was an even bigger success than Watermark, hitting the top spot in the UK and No.17 in the US. She won her first Grammy for her efforts on Shepherd Moons in the category of Best New Age Albums.
In the time leading up to 1997, the musical icon released a few other chart-topping albums. These included The Memory of Trees and her first compilation album, Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya. During this period as well, Enya was offered a contract to write the soundtrack for the 1997 movie Titanic – she turned down the offer.
The Irish singer’s 2000 album, A Day Without Rain, is her best selling album. Its success was buoyed largely by the 9/11 attacks in 2001 as its lead single Only Time, was extensively used by a plethora of television and radio coverages for the disaster. She donated the proceeds from the success of the lead single to the International Association of Firefighters.
In the same year, she wrote and recorded two songs on the soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In 2002, she performed her hit single May It Be with an orchestra at the 74th Academy Awards, where she won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Enya has released three more solo albums since then: Amarantine (2005); And Winter Came (2008); and Dark Sky Island (2015).
Enya has traveled around the world throughout her career promoting her albums. During these travels, she has performed live and with lip syncing vocals on talk and music shows and events. However, she has never performed a concert tour for any of her albums – ever. Not even when fans all over the globe were yearning for it. According to her producer, Nicky Ryan, she once turned down a fee of almost £500,000 in 1996 to perform a single concert in Japan.
The singer explained that the overtime spent working on the recording of her albums in the studio leaves her little or no time to think of any other project. She has also cited that her reluctance stems from the difficulty to recreate her studio-oriented sound for the stage.
Enya has also performed for global figures such as Pope John Paul II at the Vatican City in December 1995, and the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, at his birthday party in April 1996.
In 1997, the successful musician rewarded herself with a humongous £2.5 million castle located in Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland. She spent in excess of £250,000 to improve the castle’s security in 2005 after two men broke in, attacked one of her maids, and made away with some valuables.
Who is Enya’s husband?
Nicky Ryan and his wife, Roma Ryan have worked very exclusively with Enya since she started her career in the 80s. Enya talks about how she gets inspiration and encouragement from them, however, it seems one thing that has not rubbed off on Enya is their love life.
The singer once said during an interview that falling madly in love and getting married would be the most horrible thing to ever happen to her. She has never considered it a priority and probably never will. It seems Enya’s private lifestyle is incompatible with love and romance, as a result, the singer remains unmarried and is happy with it.
The closest thing she has to a daughter figure are Nicky and Roma’s two daughters to whom she is a surrogate aunt.
What about her Net Worth
In 1997, the successful musician rewarded herself with a humongous £2.5 million castle located in Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland. She spent approximately £250,000 to improve the castle’s security in 2005 after two men broke in, attacked one of her maids, and made away with some valuables.
Before the release of her 2015 album Dark Sky Album, the singer had sold millions of albums worldwide.
Sunday Times released their annual rich list of Music Millionaires of Britain and Ireland. On the list, Enya was the richest female singer on the list coming in at No. 28. She is also the richest solo artist of all time to come from the Irish world. According to celebrity world, Enya’s net worth is $140 million.
One can only wonder how wealthy she would have been had she included touring in her career portfolio.