Don’t be confused, this is the same Maire Brennan from Clannad. She got tired of being addressed as ‘Marie’, ‘Mary’ or ‘Maria’ so she began using the phonetic spelling of her name. The Gallic surname Bhraonain, has been spelled phontically throughout her career. Clannad, along with Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and others were enromously influencial in making Celtic music popular worldwide in the 70s. They made the traditional musical styles of the British Islands vital and appealing to rock audiences. After the successfully reviving Irish musical traditions, they had some rough years in the 80 and 90, falling under the nefarious influence of New Age. Many of the pioneering folk musicians had this problem and made some terrible records. It was Moya’s own sister Enya who helped popularize New Age, with its guiding principle that music should be ‘good for the soul’, spiritual, inspiring, soothing and as unoffensive as humanly possible, instead of being fun. Thankfully, that trend seems to be over. Moya, for one, has returned to her traditional roots and is making good albums again.
I caught Moya on Mountain Stage in 2007, when she was touring in support of her most recent album Signature. I had gone to Mountain Stage because Suzanne Vega was on the bill. I was confused by the name change and did not realize that Moya was Maire. When she appeared I instantly knew who she was; that voice is unmistakable. I can’t recall which songs from her album she performed that night, but she sang beautifully as always. Afterwards she greeted fans and kindly signed multiple autographs for me and my father. She was very gracious and seemed pleased to hear that her music had touched our lives in our far flung corner of the world.
Moya is at work on a new album of hymns, as yet untitled that should be released this year. There is a European tour booke for this fall, including a show at St Petersburg’s famous Smolny Cathedral. Moya is also filming a new series for American television, in which she will host and interview some of the most influencial figures in Irish music.