Avoiding Limelight Adds to Enya's Allure
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (USA) 13 December 1997
The popular Irish singer met the pope last Christmas. She's not exactly a traditional Catholic, but neither did she rip up any photographs.
"No, no, no,"says Enya, with a gentle laugh. Basically, she sang a song at a charity benefit at the Vatican, and then met Pope John II.
As Enya's multitracked music is often described in spiritual and celestial terms - the kind one would like to hear upon approaching the pearly gates - one wonders if there was any discussion of the hereafter.
"Basically, he thanked me for doing the concert,"Enya says, from New York. "It's just he's so famous. It was a great honor to perform in the Vatican, to actually get behind the gates where the guards open the gates for you."
Last year, she also played for the king of Sweden at his 50th birthday party. She was flown in, hidden away, his surprise guest. "He's really quite a fan,"Enya says, of the king. "We just stood chatting for ages."
OK, so Enya - the Celtic New Age goddess who came to fame with "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)"in 1988 and has since gone on to sell more than 33 million albums worldwide - has played for royalty and papacy. But she's never toured as a solo artist. (In the 1980s, she toured with Clannad, the folk-rock band that includes a fair amount of her family. Enya, born EithneNi Bhraonaim, played keyboards and sang, but in a backing role.)
"I do get a lot of requests from around the world about when we will be touring,"says Enya, who just released "Paint the Sky With Stars - The Best of Enya."
"It would be wonderful to get to that stage,"she says. It's something that I can see and possibly move in that direction . . . but when I finish albums I always run overtime. So, the time I have for various other things runs out."
Which means, in spite of all her success, she's never had the up-close-and-personal connection, the communion if you will, with her fans in a concert setting. This, however inadvertently, may contribute to her mystique. She's not a nightclubber or trendsetter; you won't spot her doing many photo-ops.
Enya suggests she simply is trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy in a world besotted with celebrity and gossip.
"I'm known more for my music than for who I am,"she says. "The mystery has revolved around the fact that I don't tour and that I don't do a lot of promotional work either. Other artists, they'll do a lot more chat shows, more press. I don't know - maybe some people enjoy being talked about or being in the papers. I find I love talking about the music - and then that's it. I like that it's not dependent on what I do or say to introduce or sell the music to people. The music does it by itself."(This time out, however, she took advantage of her time in America, with an appearances on "The Late Show With David Letterman"and "Rosie O'Donnell.")
Thus, we will simply report that the English press noted that she had a breakup with a "mysterious"Spanish suitor earlier this year, and let it go at that. The only personal detail that Enya wants to embrace is talking about her purchase of a 19th-century castle, formerly called the Victoria, which burned in 1924 and was renamed Ayesha. (It means "eternal flame.") It overlooks Killiney Bay in Dublin. She'll be able to borrow cups of sugar from U2's singer, Bono.
"I have been traveling quite a bit and was looking for a place that I could actually call a home,"Enya says. She'd walked past the castle for years, enchanted by its exterior. Upon learning it was for sale, she took a tour and fell in love. "Instantly,"she says. "It's nothing intimidating; it's not a big ballroomy castle. It's a very homely castle."
It is Enya's name and pretty face that's on the album covers, but the music created by Enya is really made by Team Enya: Enya, and the husband-and-wife duo of Nicky and Roma Ryan.
It was Nicky Ryan who fell in love with Enya's gorgeous soprano 15 years ago and convinced her to leave the comfort of Clannad, to go solo. It was Roma Ryan who was able to put into the words - in English, Gaelic, and French - the emotions Enya's melodies and harmonies were conjuring up. Enya, 36 ((age)), and the Ryans have been solid partners since.
Last Christmas, Enya sang for the Pope. This Christmas Eve, she'll perform live on a British television show, and then fly to County Donegal in time to make midnight Mass with her family. She sings in her mother's choir. She's no star, there. She just sneaks in, takes her place, opens her mouth. "I just love being around them,"Enya says of hometown family and friends. "Catching up, you know."
Note: Transcribed by Book of Days/TreeCat. The article is similar, but shorter, than one than appeared in a Los Angeles newspaper on December 20th.