Though Iona is included with Enya and Clannad in the list of contemporary Celtic artists, the Scottish band's influences -- including jazz-fusion, prog-rock and ancient Christian themes -- are more varied. Named for an island off Scotland's western coast, the group was formed in the late '80s by vocalist Joanne Hogg and multi-instrumentalists David Fitzgerald and Dave Bainbridge.
For Iona's 1990 self-titled debut album included further acquisitions: drummer Terl Bryant, bassist Nick Beggs (former bassist of Kajagoogoo) and several studio musicians -- Fiona Davidson (Celtic harp), Peter Whitfield (strings), Troy Donockley (Uillean pipes) and Frank Van Essen (tuned percussion). The album received very little press, even in their home country, though a Dutch network compiled a documentary based on Iona, the band and the island.
Two years later, Iona returned with Book of Kells, and the album was praised by North American critics as well as those of the British Isles. David Fitzgerald left in 1992 to pursue a degree in music and, as a result, Iona lost much of its jazz influences by the following year's Beyond These Shores. The group made up for Fitzgerald's absence, however, by inviting Robert Fripp to guest on the album. A contract with England's Alliance Music led to 1995's Journey into the Morn; the album was released early the following year in the U.S. and Canada. Fitzgerald returned to active recording in 1995, when he released the solo album Columcille. Journey into the Morn followed in 1996. ~ John Bush