This Day in Music, May 17: Enya, Andrea Corr

By , Contributor

Luck of the Irish... 

Today we see not one but two of the most successful female Irish singers sharing their birthday.

First, born on this day in 1961 in Gweedore, County Donegal, in the northwest corner of Ireland, Enya Ni Bhraonain, better known simply as Enya.  

Growing up in a musical family, the sixth of nine children (four brothers and four sisters), Enya was always surrounded by music. Her grandparents were in a band that played throughout Ireland, her father was the leader of a group, and her mother played in a dance band. Enya briefly joined her family group Clannad (who scored the haunting 1982 hit single "Harry's Game") before leaving to perform solo.  

Enya achieved her breakthrough in 1988 with the album Watermark, which featured the hit song "Orinoco Flow" (sometimes incorrectly known as "Sail Away"). Her trademark sound is achieved by layering her voice as many as 80 times in the studio. The Watermark album has since sold over 11 million copies. 

And there's more.  

The singer's 2000 album A Day Without Rain sold 15 million copies and she was named the world's best-selling female artist of 2001. She is Ireland's best-selling solo musician and is officially the country's second-largest musical export after the band U2.  

Her album sales stand at 70 million, with over 26 million in album sales in the US. Her work has earned her four Grammy awards. 

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the singer's "Only Time" was used as a soundtrack in many radio and television reports about the attacks. Enya released a special edition of the song, with all proceeds donated to the families of victims. 

And our second birthday girl, who was born on this day in Dundalk, Ireland in 1974, is Andrea Corr, singer and one quarter of the Corrs family who have sold more than 55 million albums worldwide. 

Andrea's musical parents, Gerry and Jean, had their own band, Sound Affair, who would appear in local pubs playing songs by ABBA and The Eagles. Andrea and her three siblings, Sharon, Caroline and brother Jim, would often attend the gigs and watch their parents perform. 

In 1990 Andrea and her sisters and brother formed a quartet called The Corrs. Their career was launched in 1991 when they auditioned for the Alan Parker-directed film The Commitments where Andrea got a speaking role as Sharon Rabbitte. 

The film's musical director John Hughes noticed the quartet when they auditioned for the movie, and agreed to become their manager (and has stayed with them ever since).  

With a blend of their Irish music background mixed with contemporary pop/rock elements, the photogenic family signed with Atlantic Records in 1995 and travelled to North America to record their debut album Forgiven, Not Forgotten. When released, it was successful in Ireland, Australia, Japan, and Spain, and reached platinum status in the United Kingdom.  

The Corrs then achieved another leap to international prominence with their performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Record sales continued with the group's In Blue album topping the charts in 18 countries and their Talk On Corners was the best-selling UK album of 1998, spending 142 weeks on the UK chart. 

In 1999, Talk On Corners went to #1 on the UK album chart on no less than 10 different occasions. 

Andrea tried her hand at acting again in the rock opera Evita, which starred Madonna. She received an honorary MBE for her contribution to music and charity in 2005. 

While her brother and sisters are taking a hiatus to raise their families, Sharon (who is married to Brett Desmond, son of Irish billionaire Dermot Desmond) is releasing her second solo album, Lifelines, at the end of this month. 

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A former musician, Neil was in the 80's group The Cheaters who were once signed to EMI's Parlophone label, and released three albums. He was also a radio presenter and is still a regular music pundit on various BBC stations. Neil is the founder of the award winning web site This Day in Music which is…

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