SINEAD O’Connor is an Irish pop star whose epic ballad Nothing Compares 2 U was one of the standout songs of the ’90s.
The singer’s career has been defined by controversial moments due to her strong views and recently converted to Islam, tweeting a picture of herself wearing a hijab. Here’s her story…
Who is Sinead O’Connor, how old is she and what is her background?
Sinead O’Connor is a 52-year-old Irish singer, born in Glengeary, County Dublin on December 8, 1966.
The shaven-headed star is one of five children, raised Roman Catholic and she has spoken about the abuse she experienced at the hands of her parents.
They split when she was eight and her father’s dismay at not being able to secure custody of his children led him to become chairman of the Divorce Action Group.
At the age of 15 Sinead’s shoplifting and truancy saw her put in one of the notorious Magdalene asylums for 18 months.
There she began to discover her love of singing and in 1984 she met Colm Farrelly, with whom she formed a band called Ton Ton Macoute.
But in 1985, when her mother died in a car crash, Sinead left the band and moved to London.
There she worked with a fired U2 record boss Fachtna O’Ceallaigh, who eventually organised for her to produce her own debut album, while pregnant with her son Jack.
Her first LP was a big success but her breakthrough hit came in 1990, power ballad Nothing Compares 2 U, which topped the charts in 13 countries.
It was her version of a song written by Prince for his side-project, ’80s band The Family.
The video for Nothing Compares 2 U – filmed close-up on Sinead’s face as she sings in a black polo neck – is now thought of as one of the 20th century’s most iconic videos.
Sinead has since said that her tears in the video were genuine and that she was thinking about her mother, while using the bel canto singing technique that helps express emotion.
Despite the success of the single, Sinead has claimed she and Prince did not get on, and even had a “punch-up” after he invited her to his house.
She won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance in 1990, but boycotted the awards ceremony.
This is because Sinead had pulled her gigs in the States because she didn’t want the US National Anthem being played beforehand, causing rows with many American musicians.
Around that time Sinead had a short-lived romance with Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers which inspired his song I Could Have Lied.
Since then Sinead has released eight more albums, the most recent being 2014’s I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss.
In September, 2019 she sang Nothing Compares 2 U on RTE’s Late Late Show in a hijab, with the performance quickly becoming the most watched in the history of the show.
It garnered 1.6million plays on the RTE Twitter account by September, with another 800,000 plays on YouTube.
What controversies has Sinead caused during her career?
During a 1992 performance on US prime time show SNL, Sinead caused outraged by holding up a picture of Pope John Paul II and ripping it in front of the camera while saying “evil” and “fight the enemy”.
This was a surprise move on O’Connor’s part as she’d used a picture of a refugee during rehearsals.
The stunt was part of a protest against child abuse in the Catholic Church and prompted angry calls from thousands of shocked Americans.
Two weeks later she performed to boos at Madison Square Garden, and decided to respond with a shouted rendition of Bob Marley’s War, which she’d sung on SNL, before walking off stage.
Then, in 1995 she made a last-minute appearance on discussion show After Dark to row with a Dominican monk and a Catholic Church representative about how the Church deals with child abuse.
In the late ’90s, Sinead was ordained a priest, despite the fact the Roman Catholic Church does not accept women for ordination and excommunicates anyone trying to ordain a woman.
Despite continually attacking the Vatican and “intermediaries” in the Christian Church, she’s said that her belief in the Holy Trinity has helped her to cope with life following her child abuse.
She also criticised Miley Cyrus’ provocative image in 2013 via an open letter on her website, writing: “Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. We aren’t merely objects of desire.
“I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers… that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career.”
In an interview with Dr Phil, O’Connor claimed she was abused by her mother who had her own “torture chamber”.
The singer said: “I am fed up of being defined as the crazy person; the childhood abuse survivor.”
Discussing her childhood, she added: “She [her mother] ran a torture chamber. She was a person who took delight in hurting you.
“She used to make me say over and over again ‘I am nothing. I am nothing’ while she was beating me.
“She was not well; she was really very, very, very not well. I would say she was possessed although I’m not sure I believe in such things.”
Has Sinead changed her name and when did she convert to Islam?
On October 25, 2018, Sinead, who was ordained a priest by a Catholic sect during the 1990s, has announced she has converted to Islam, and changed her name to Shuhada’ Davitt.
The singer tweeted a picture of herself wearing a hijab and told fans: “This is to announce that I am proud to have become a Muslim.”
“This is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey.
“All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant.
“I will be given (another) new name. It will be Shuhada.”
Sinead changed her name last year to Magda Davitt, saying in an interview that she wanted to be “free of parental curses”.
In the past, she has said in interviews that her Christian faith has helped her overcome personal turmoil.
Sinead sparked debate on Twitter early in November when she slammed “white people” or “non-Muslims” as being disgusting, before adding: “interesting to see if Twitter bans this”.
Is Sinead married?
Sinead has been married four times and has had four children.
Sinead, who believed herself to be bipolar for a number of years due to a misdiagnosis, had a hysterectomy in 2015 following three years of gynaecological problems.
More Sinead O'Connor
What is her connection to Conor McGregor?
Conor McGregor walks out to his fights to Sinead’s rendition of The Foggy Dew.
She performed the track live at the MGM Grand Garden Arena before the UFC 189 fight in 2015 where McGregor took on Chad Mendes after Jose Aldo pulled out due to injury.
Sinead also offered to sing live again for his bout against Floyd Mayweather in Vegas.
He’s clearly a fan of the singer and previously described her as a “powerful woman”.
“When you listen to her music it’s eerily beautiful. It’s go to war music,” he added.