Enya, the Irish Troubador, Whose Heavenly Tones Set 'Orinoco Flow' Surging Up the U.S. Charts

updated 03/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

A cold rain pelts the panes of the Sunset Boulevard low-rise. "It looks quite Irish today," says Enya. It also looks quite Enya: Watermark, after all, is the title of her New Age-influenced LP, which is making unexpected U.S. waves.

"Now that I'm on the charts, people tell me I'm a pop star. That's wrong," protests Enya, who was christened Eithne Ni Bhraonain (Eithne is pronounced "enya" in Gaelic) 27 years ago in Gweedore, Ireland. "I hate the word pop." Indeed, Enya's hit single, "Orinoco Flow," floats eerily above today's rock and rap landscape. A moody tale of traveling down Venezuela's Orinoco River, it opens with a harp and builds with Enya's own ethereal voice layered so many times that she sounds like an ecclesiastical choir.

One of nine children born to musician parents, Enya found her true voice in 1982 after bolting from the Irish band Clannad, which contained several of her siblings. She headed for Dublin and found a room of her own in the home of Clannad's former manager, Nicky Ryan, who manages her now, and his wife, Roma, who writes her evocative lyrics. A commission to score David Puttnam's 1985 feature The Frog Prince led to her breakthrough project, the sound track of the BBC series The Celts.

Oddly, until she ends her promotional tour and returns home later this month to begin recording, Enya has sworn off music. "I'd rather have silence—read a book, go for a walk, anything to try to relax." Except one thing. "It's probably a mean thing to say about romance," she says, "but there's just no time for it."

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