Irish singer, songwriter, and harpist Máire Brennan (later known as Moya Brennan) rose to international success with the Celtic group Clannad, who formed in County Donegal in 1970.
Widely recognized for popularizing contemporary Celtic music by blending in elements of rock, jazz, and new age, Clannad initially consisted of Máire, her brothers Ciarán and Pól Brennan, and their twin uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan. Considered Ireland's most successful musical family, Clannad at one time also featured Máire's younger sister, Eithne, who later achieved worldwide success under the name Enya.
Born in Dublin in 1952, Brennan was the eldest of nine siblings and grew up in the isolated Irish-speaking village of Gweedore in County Donegal. Her father Leo owned a popular tavern in nearby Meenaleck where she and her siblings would sing as children. After studying harp, piano, and vocals at Dublin's Royal Irish Academy of Music, Brennan spent the '70s recording and touring with Clannad, enjoying critical success before finding a widespread international audience with their 1982 breakout single "Theme from Harry's Game." Throughout the '80s, Clannad continued to operate on a global level, recording an ambitious score to the popular television series Robin of Sherwood and scoring another hit with "In a Lifetime," a duet between Máire and U2's Bono.
Brennan made her solo debut on Atlantic Records with 1992's Máire, followed three years later by Misty Eyed Adventures. Both albums featured contributions from family members as well as Planxty founder and family friend Dónal Lunny. Following Clannad's Grammy-winning 1997 release, Landmarks, the group went on hiatus and Brennan signed with Word Records to release a pair of albums in 1998's Perfect Time and 1999's Whisper to the Wild Water. Beginning with 2003's Two Horizons LP, she began using the name Moya Brennan, a simpler phonetic variation on her Irish given name. An Irish Christmas arrived in time for the 2005 holiday season and she followed up a year later with her seventh album, Signature. In 2008, Clannad resumed touring and Brennan balanced the band's schedule with solo efforts like 2009's live album Heart Strings and the 2010 collaboration with fellow harpist Cormac DeBarra, My Match Is a Makin', an album of all traditional songs that was re-released in a slightly altered form the following year under the title Voices & Harps. 2013 saw the release of both a second DeBarra collaboration, Affinity, as well as Nádúr, Clannad's first studio album in 16 years. Brennan returned in 2017 with her ninth solo LP, Canvas, which featured contributions from her children Aisling and Paul. ~ Timothy Monger, Rovi