The professional music careers of sisters Maureen, Karen, and Teresa Ennis exploded onto the national stage in January, 1998, when they brought the house down, and the capacity audience to its feet, at the
East Coast Music Association Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
With one forty minute set, performed brilliantly by the trio and their superb band, the Canadian music industry witnessed a rarely seen event in the business, the collective acknowledgement by every last person in the room that The Ennis Sisters were destined to enjoy national, if not international success as a musical group.
On that fateful night many feel a star was born, but for anyone who has seen The Ennis Sisters perform since they were just young tots, their success comes as no surprise.
Their father, John, and their mother Ceilie introduced the girls at very early stages to music. Should their success ever be such that visual documentary is required, early photos and videos would show the three confident children performing for family and friends at gatherings. It would also highlight the pride and enchantment of their parents who have always encouraged the girl's musical aspirations, and continue to do so today.
From impromptu family concerts, through music lessons, to participation in school choirs, the girls went on to begin performing in Kiwanis's Music Festivals in their early teens where adjudicators consistently awarded them with first place, both individually and in the Family Music Class. Though their magnificent harmonies played a big role in their success, being able to arrange their own music, and the performance of Maureen's originals, no doubt tipped the judge's scales.
During their school years, and indeed since, The Ennis Sisters have been featured performers at many, many charitable events. In 1997-98, for example, they donated their time and talent to assist at least 30 different Newfoundland charities. These performances not only helped raise funds and awareness for organizations, they also were instrumental in helping the girls develop into a confident and locally loved musical group.
In 1997, The Ennis Sisters recorded their first CD, Red is the Rose, which featured six original tunes by Maureen and several others arranged by the trio. Released on June 25th, it immediately attracted strong reviews and media interest, including a comprehensive article in Billboard. The CD has proven to be one of the most popular releases ever in their home Province, with over 15,000 sold in just eighteen months.
With the success of the CD and the with rave reviews, public performance offers increased exponentially. The departure of the replica of the John Cabot ship, The Matthew, saw The Ennis Sisters perform to over 10,000 delighted people in St. John's. They have wowed audiences during numerous shows at the Arts and Culture Centers in Newfoundland, Including one with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, and they have had the honor of performing for the governor General of Canada and his provincial counterparts.
In November, 1997, just five months after the release of their debut CD, The Ennis Sisters performed on the CBC televised Music Industry Awards Show where they where they were the proud recipients of the prestigious Folk Album of the year award. The Ennis Sisters capped off a highly successful 1997 with their own CBC TV special, An Ennis Road Christmas.
If 1997 is viewed as the year in which the sisters captured the support and recognition of their fellow Newfoundlanders, 1998 will we remembered as the year in which their national career began to gel.
Their aforementioned showcase at the ECMAs was undoubtedly an amazing way to kick off the new year. Nearly everything else that has transpired in 1998 emanated from this show…the national and international media attention, the contract offers from several major recording labels, and the multitude of profile performance offers had their genesis's at this show.
Throughout the summer of 1998, The Ennis Sisters performed 40 shows in the Celtic Musical Needfire at the Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto with an average of 2000 in attendance for each show. Even with their hectic show schedule, they still managed to perform at such events as the Charlottetown Festival of Fathers, the Halifax Great Big Picnic, The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, and on Parliament Hill on Canada Day with over 100,00 in attendance and nearly 800,000 more watching the national broadcast at home.
Other highlights of 1998 included the inclusion of songs on the Chieftain's compilation Fire in the Kitchen and on the Needfire soundtrack; winning Newfoundland Music Industry Association awards for Group of the Year and Female Artist of the Year; performing their first web cast from the international IT conference, Softworld '98; the release of their second CD, Christmas on Ennis Road; and nominations for YTV Young Achievers Awards for Musical Group, Vocal Group, and Music Arrangement.
With their amazing success and growth in the past two years, there is no doubt the last year of the millennium will prove to be a banner year for The Ennis Sisters.
In the January 1st, 2000 issue of Maclean’s Magazine The Ennis Sisters were named as one of the top 100 Canadians to watch. On February 5th the girls took the first step into the new millennium by releasing their third CD entitled The Ennis Sisters 3, at the ECMA’s in Sydney, Nova Scotia. It has received rave reviews in the press and the first single is entitled, Rainy Days, written by Maureen, and is receiving extensive radio play. The girls are now preparing for their cross province tour of Newfoundland and Labrador with Terry Kelly, beginning
in St. John’s on the 19th of February and ending in Goose Bay on February 27th, 2000. They are presently reviewing numerous offers to perform at national and international festivals during the summer. The Ennis Sisters have the talent, poise, and professionalism to develop into a highly successful musical group. Maureen, though just 22, has already reached undeniable maturity as a songwriter and arranger, and leads the group with her amazing vocals and deftness with several instruments including guitar and bodhran. Karen, 20, who is presently attending Memorial University,
brings vocals, flute, tin whistle, bodhran and step dancing to the trio. Teresa, 19, recently finished her last year of high school and adds vocals, bodhran and step dancing to the group.
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