ENYA is set to earn a six-figure sum by topping the American charts — courtesy of just a dozen notes composed nearly 20 years ago.
In an unlikely pairing, the reclusive songstress is set to feature alongside P Diddy, the American rapper, on a single by the latest signing to his Bad Boy Entertainment music label.
Mario Winans, an R&B singer, has used a sample from Enya’s song Boadicea on his track I Don’t Wanna Know, which is shooting up the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Currently at number nine, the record has been tipped for the top spot.
In return for using Enya’s music, Winans will have to hand over 60% of the royalties from sales of the track to the multi-millionaire, which could amount to a six-figure sum. Enya’s name also features on the single’s cover.
Diddy personally phoned Nicky Ryan, Enya’s manager and producer, to request permission to use the melody from Boadicea, which featured on the singer’s debut album. It was the same haunting piece of music that was controversially used without permission by the Fugees on their song Ready or Not in 1996.
“We had a very nice request from Puff Daddy, or P Diddy,” said Ryan. “It was the fact that they requested it, rather than the way the Fugees did it when they went ahead without permission.”
Diddy sent a demo of the track to Enya about a month ago, and she, along with Ryan and his wife Roma, who writes lyrics with Enya, listened to it. Given the sort of lyrics that normally feature in rap and hip-hop songs, they were careful to check the single contained nothing offensive.
“The lyrics were fine,” said Ryan. “It was unusual for P Diddy to produce such a clean song. The guy who is singing it is known as a gospel singer over there. I asked my daughters, and they said Mario was a clean act in that regard so we said okay. We did insist that it said: ‘featuring Enya’.”
Whether the reclusive singer will be happy with the video for the track, which features Diddy and a scantily clad female, remains to be seen.
Ryan said Enya has received many requests from rap bands wanting to sample her music on tracks but had turned them down. “There have been lots of others and we refused them because they all had the same kind of bad-mouthing stuff. You’d be surprised how many people want Enya on their albums. There is a huge range of people who have asked, from Neil Young to P Diddy.”
The Fugees, if they had asked for permission before including Enya’s music on their album, would probably have been refused on the basis of the lyrics to Ready or Not, said Ryan. As it was, the album containing the track was already on the shelves before Enya discovered it had used a sample of Boadicea. The band later agreed to pay for ripping off the track.
“The Fugees contacted us and asked could we make an exception because they were a new, young band and it would literally mean taking their albums off the shelf,” said Ryan. “They didn’t expect to be such a big hit. In return for that, we said, ‘Yes, as long as you give us 100% of what’s coming in on that particular song’. Although we agreed on the basis that Enya did not want to destroy their careers by pulling the album off the shelves, we decided to punish them by taking 100% of the income on that song.”
Although the song spent three weeks at the top of the UK charts, the Fugees made nothing from sales of the single. The Score, the Fugees’ album which featured the track, went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. “If you let one rap band rip off a piece of music, then it opens the gates,” said Ryan. “Although we could have sued them, it would have been a massive lawsuit and would have destroyed the Fugees’ career.”
Winans, a gospel artist who has now switched to R&B, has said the track that features Enya singing the riff is one of his favourite songs on his album.
“I first heard Boadicea at the end of the movie Sleepwalkers (a Stephen King horror) about five or six years ago,” Winans told MTV. “It’s something I always wanted to produce. Then when the Fugees did it, oh my God, I loved it.” Winans has worked as a producer with acts such as Beyoncé, Mary J Blige, Whitney Houston, R Kelly, Jennifer Lopez and The Notorious BIG.
The single has gone into the top 10 based solely on the airplay it has received on radio. It was decided to release the song as a single only after DJs began playing a tape of the track and listeners began flooding stations with requests. It is currently the most requested song at 60 rhythm-crossover radio stations around America.