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May 17: Happy Birthday Enya and Andrea Corr

0517EnyaCorr

Today is hereby decreed to be Irish Singers Day at Le Blog (plus, we have a lot of other music world birthdays).

Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, generally known as Enya, is turning 56 today.  She began her music career by spending a few years with the traditional Celtic band Clannad, which consists of her three elder siblings and their two uncles.  In the mid-eighties she started to pursue a solo career.  Her first album, Enya, was a selection of music she had recorded for a BBC documentary.  With her second album, Watermark, she became an international success and one of the defining performers of new age music.

Enya has won four Grammys for Best New Age Album, and her roughly 80 million records sold worldwide make her second only to U2 among Irish musical acts.  She wrote and performed the song “May It Be” for The Fellowship of the Ring, receiving Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, and she recently caused a stir among her fans by broaching the possibility of a concert tour in a few interviews—which would be her first ever.

Andrea Corr is celebrating her 43rd.  The youngest of the four siblings who make up the Irish folk-rock group The Corrs, Andrea is the group’s lead singer and plays several instruments.  The band was formed in the early nineties and released their first album, Forgiven, not Forgotten, in 1995.  They were a success in their native country and much of Europe from the start, but it was their third studio album, In Blue, that was their breakthrough in the US.  After a hiatus of several years beginning in 2006, they released their sixth studio album, White Light, in 2015.

During the Corrs’ hiatus, Andrea released two solo albums that were moderately successful.  She has also done some periodic film and theater work.  She played Juan Peron’s mistress in the film adaptation of Evita, and was one of the romantic leads in an Irish film about céilí bands, The Boys and Girl from County Clare.  Unfortunately, she didn’t get to sing in either film.

Nikki Reed, who is 29 today, starred in Thirteen and co-wrote the script with Catherine Hardwicke, receiving an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance.  She subsequently played Rosalie Hale in the Twilight films and Betsy Ross on season 3 of Sleepy HollowSasha Alexander, who starred as Maura Isles on TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles, is turning 44 today.  Paige Turco, who is turning 52, made her feature debut as April O’Neil in a pair of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films in the early 1990s, and currently stars as Abigail Griffin on The 100Erin Richards, who plays Barbara Kean on Gotham, celebrates her 31st today.

Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard turns 61 today.  After winning the gold medal in the light welterweight division at the 1976 Olympics, Leonard turned professional in 1977, and by the summer of 1979 had won his first world championship.  During his career he won world titles in five weight divisions, and was one of the “Fabulous Four” of exceptional welterweight/middleweight boxers who were all competing during the eighties (the others were Roberto Durán, Marvin Hagler, and Thomas Hearns).

Trent Reznor, who celebrates his 52nd, is best known as the founder and primary songwriter of Nine Inch Nails.  He has also cowritten several film scores with Atticus Ross, winning an Oscar for the score for The Social Network.  Henry Fredericks, better known as Taj Mahal, turns 75 today.  A blues musician, he is known for fusing blues with a variety of other musical influences, such as reggae and African music.  Jordan Knight, who is turning 47, is best known as the lead singer for the New Kids on the Block; he has also had a moderately successful career as a solo artist.  Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005) was the leading Wagner and Richard Strauss soprano in the world for much of her career, which lasted over 30 years.  She also enjoyed singing many of the major Verdi and Puccini roles.  A second famous soprano born today was Zinka Milanov (1906-1989).  Born in Croatia, she sang at the Met for nearly 30 years, and was especially known for Verdi heroines like the title character in Aida and Leonora in Il TrovatoreDennis Brain (1921-1957) was one of the most brilliant horn players of the 20th Century; sadly, he was a short-lived one, dying at 36 when he crashed his sports car into a tree.

Bob Merrill (1921-1998; not to be confused with the operatic baritone Robert Merrill) was a composer of traditional pop songs such as “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window” for Patti Page and “Honeycomb” for Jimmie Rodgers.  He also wrote for musical theater, most notably as the lyricist for Funny Girl, one of Barbra Streisand’s most famous shows.

Lyricist Howard Ashman (1950-1991) normally worked with composer Alan Menken.  Their stage musicals included Little Shop of Horrors, also adapted into a  feature film.  The duo are best known for their work on the Disney animated features The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, each of which brought them an Oscar for Best Original Song.  Sadly, the second Oscar was posthumous for Ashman, who died of complications of AIDS in early 1991).

Jean Gabin (1904-1976) was one of the greatest stars in the history of French cinema.  He made his reputation in the late thirties in films like Pépé le Moko, Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion and The Human Beast, and Marcel Carné’s Port of Shadows and Daybreak.  A sojourn in Hollywood during World War 2 was unsuccessful, but after the war he resumed his career in French film and remained a major star into the early seventies.

The late Bill Paxton (1955-2017), who died earlier this year, was known for significant roles in films such as Aliens (as Private Hudson), Near Dark, One False Move, Tombstone (as Morgan Earp), and Apollo 13.  He was a four-time Golden Globe nominee for his television work, once as John Paul Vann on HBO’s movie A Bright Shining Lie, three times as Bill Henrickson on Big Love, and received an Emmy nomination for Hatfields & McCoys.

Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) was an Oscar nominee for screenwriting (for Easy Rider) and for acting (in Hoosiers).  His other notable films included The American Friend, Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, True Romance, and SpeedMaureen O’Sullivan (1911-1998) was best known for playing Jane in Tarzan the Ape Man opposite Johnny Weissmuller, as well as in five sequels.  She also had major roles in films like The Thin Man and A Day at the Races, and worked until she was in her eighties; actress Mia Farrow is her daughter.

Our “benefactor to all humanity” birthday today is medical pioneer Edward Jenner (1749-1823).  Known as the “father of immunology,” Jenner developed the first effective vaccine, the smallpox vaccine.

If today is your birthday, congratulations on sharing your big day with these notable names.  Birthday wishes to everyone celebrating a big day today.  Come back tomorrow for more celebrity birthdays.

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Posted on May 17, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m going to make a longer post later but I wanted to share a couple of Birgit Nilsson stories. She was in some ways a classic opera diva, but also had a sense of humor, and a lot of colorful stories have come down about her. One time, Nilsson was singing Brunhilde in a production of Wagner’s Die Walkure, conducted by the autocratic Herbert von Karajan. Karajan had chosen to light the stage very dimly, which many of the singers felt was very unsafe. Nilsson decided to protest this—she showed up at rehearsal one day in her Valkyrie costume, but wearing a miner’s helmet with working lamp (and Valkyrie wings!). Reportedly, Karajan got the point and the lights were turned up.

    Another story involves Nilsson and today’s other birthday diva, Zinka Milanov. For a long tme, MIlanov had “owned” the role Aida in Verdi’s opera at the Met. But sometime later in her career, the Met engaged NIlsson to sing in a performance of Aida. Milanov was put out, so on opening night, she commandeered the Rolls Royce that was waiting to take Nilsson back to her hotel after the performance, commenting “If Madame Nilsson is going to steal my roles, I am going to steal her Rolls.”

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  2. I was never really into new age music, but since my mom liked Enya I was at least partly aware of the Enya boom of the late eighties.

    I’ve been a fan of the Corrs for quite a while now. Andrea is a great vocalist; now, if only they’d give her a movie role where she gets to sing! (actually, I believe she did the singing voice for the lead character in the animated film Quest for Camelot, which I’ve never seen).

    I saw Nikki Reed in Thirteen many years ago; I’ve always thought she is rather talented and would love to see some at least medium-big project come her way.

    We have two actors in today’s article who have participated in movie versions of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Bill Paxton played Morgan Earp in Tombstone, while Dennis Hopper played Billy Clanton in John Sturges Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

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  3. jestak2, I like how you don’t play it safe with these headlines; sometimes I even learn about individuals I’ve never heard of before, like Enya.
    Andrea Corr, I’m really into that one by song by The Corrs, “Breathless” (hearing it in my head right now). I heard that song over the radio at my uncle’s car wash in the late 1990’s, but didn’t know who the band was. A few years ago I did an interest search, and boom, I was introduced to The Corrs.
    Sasha Alexander, I’ve seen “Rizzoli & Isles” a few times; I thought Angie Harmon & her worked well together. Bonus points for that show having Bruce McGill in the cast.
    Paige Turco, I probably remember her best from “The Stepfather” remake (I thought Sela Ward & her were the best things in the film), but I haven’t seen that Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles sequel since 1991 (didn’t care for it, and never plan on viewing the third installment), and I thought the actress who played April in the first film, Judith Hoag, was pretty & fun.
    Sugar Ray Leonard, I never was big into boxing (talk about damaging one’s brain), but I do recall a couple of his comebacks, TV commercials, and stints as a boxing analyst.
    Trent Reznor, I’ve always been a huge fan of NIN, as I even have some of those remix disks (like “Further down the Spiral” which I call “Filler down the Spiral”), and remember the one NIN concert I went to in 2000. I’ve always liked Reznors’s approach to his music, and the theme he came up with, somewhat dark but honest. I heard Ministry was a big influence (love Ministry too, even their early disco-synthpop sounding stuff like the “With sympathy” album).
    Bill Paxton, he will be missed; I had no idea about that “Training Day” show, in which I caught an episode of after he passed. Other than the larger known roles of his, I liked his sarcastic bartender character in “Streets of Fire” and him in “Indian Summer” too (both films with Diane Lane in the cast).

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  4. Oops, forgot about Dennis Hopper: total error. Wow, where to start with him? I always dug his performances in these two 1986 films the most: “River’s Edge” & “Blue Velvet”, but I also thought Hopper did some interesting thing as a director beyond “Easy Rider”, such as 1988’s “Colors” and 1990’s “The Hot Spot”.

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