Enya Exploring Rare Concert Tour
Anthony Breznican, AP Entertainment Writer
Associatted Press (USA) 4 April 2001
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- When life gets tense, Enya soothes herself with a stroll in the hilly, green countryside outside her home near Ireland's Wicklow Mountains.
"I love to just go for a walk because as soon as you step outside nature helps take away whatever problems you have," the New Age songstress says.
Now the 39-year-old Grammy winner is planning a much larger trip: a concert tour of the United States.
The willowy, raven-haired performer, one of nine siblings, performed regularly in Europe with her musical family back when she was known by her Gaelic name, Eithne Ni Bhraonain. But she hasn't played a major concert since achieving worldwide fame as Enya during the late 1980s.
"I find it's something I truly miss," she says. "When you go on a stage the feedback is tremendous and you really get a sense of how you're affecting people."
Although her first solo album, 1988's Watermark, became a quick success, a major tour seemed impossible because she played and sang virtually every note in her complex, multilayered songs.
"At that point, I didn't know about the longevity of my career, so we weren't thinking about hiring a full orchestra and choir to play all the different parts," Enya says. "So I just dedicated myself to making music in the studio."
Enya's immersion in her work produced two other top-selling albums, 1991's Shepherd Moons and 1995's The Memory of Trees.
Few public appearances, meanwhile, propagated her reputation as a sort of J.D. Salinger of New Age music -- talented, yet reclusive.
"I do promotions and (album) signings, but a lot of people still say, 'Well, we don't know much about Enya'," she says. "So I say just listen. It's there. I think the music actually says by itself, stronger than me, what feelings I have."
Not surprisingly, the performer -- known for such serene, choral melodies as "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)" -- describes herself as generally "mellow" and "relaxed."
She talks softly, laughs easily and the rise and fall of her Irish accent adds a delicate musical quality to her speaking voice.
After selling more than 44 million albums worldwide, she no longer questions the "longevity" of her career.
Although no dates have been set for her tour, Enya welcomes the chance to travel, especially after spending the past two years in near seclusion while working on her latest best-selling album, A Day Without Rain.
The writing and recording process, which she shares with two longtime collaborators, producer Nicky Ryan and lyricist Roma Ryan, is long and painstaking because the compositions are so highly detailed.
None of Enya's music is electronically produced, so each individually performed part of her complex, rhythmic chants and lilting melodies evolve over a series of months.
"When I go to the studio and I sit down to write music, I pour what I'm really feeling at that moment into the song. And when we start recording I like to give 100 percent each time. That can get very ..." She pauses to select the words. "Very tiring," she says finally.
Her fans connect with the music passionately, flooding the musician with letters detailing personal stories of sadness and triumph that they have inexorably linked with her voice.
The missives come from listeners who range from "8-year-olds to 80-year-old men, women and teen-agers," Enya says. "They are touched somehow, and that, to me, is quite incredible."
On her official Web site, Enya.com, fans share testimonials about the singer's effect on their lives and pose such queries as "What colors do Enya's albums make you imagine?"
"The first time I heard 'Orinoco Flow' I actually felt a little embarrassed because I thought the music was too personal. Fact is, it was hitting me at a very profound level," says Elliot Hunt, 53, of Perth, Ontario.
The Canadian says Enya's work inspired him to express his own feelings through painting.
"Enya has infuenced me in my art," Hunt says. "I don't waste time doing paintings that don't come from that deep personal place, and she has helped to give me the courage to do this."
To some listeners, Enya's music inspires them to strive for long-held dreams, others say her songs have carried them through the devastation of romantic breakups or the deaths of loved ones.
Perhaps the ethereal quality of her harmonies evokes a sense of spirituality in them, Enya says, or maybe the music just calms jangled nerves.
"When you open yourself to people through your music, they feel they can open up to you, and talk about something very personal to them," Enya says. "You go very deep within yourself when you're writing music."
During a recent album-signing engagement in Japan, "the first lady in line walked up and just broke down in tears," Enya recalls. "She never said a word. It was incredible."
Note: Originally transcribed by Troman.