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Sinead O'Connor

Sinéad O'Connor ranked among the most distinctive and controversial pop music stars of the alternative era, the first and in many ways, the most influential of the numerous female performers whose music dominated airwaves throughout the last decade of the 20th century. Brash and outspoken -- her shaved head, angry visage, and shapeless wardrobe a direct challenge to popular culture's long-prevailing notions of femininity and sexuality -- O'Connor irrevocably altered the image of women in rock; railing against long-standing stereotypes simply by asserting herself not as a sex object, but as a serious artist, she kick-started a revolt which led the way for performers ranging from Liz Phair to Courtney Love to Alanis Morissette.

O'Connor was born in Dublin, Ireland, on December 8, 1966. Her childhood was often traumatic: her parents divorced when she was eight, and she later claimed that her mother, who was killed in a 1985 automobile accident, frequently abused her. After being expelled from Catholic school, O'Connor was arrested for shoplifting and was shuttled off to a reformatory; at the age of 15, while singing a cover of Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen" at a wedding, she was spotted by Paul Byrne, the drummer for the Irish band In Tua Nua (best known as protégés of U2). After co-writing the first In Tua Nua single, "Take My Hand," O'Connor left boarding school in order to focus on a career in music, and began performing in area coffeehouses; she later studied voice and piano at the Dublin College of Music, and supported herself delivering singing telegrams.

Upon signing a contract with Ensign Records in 1985, O'Connor relocated to London; the following year she made her recorded debut on the soundtrack to the film The Captive, appearing with U2 guitarist the Edge. After scrapping the initial tapes for her debut LP on the grounds that the production was too Celtic, she took the producer's seat herself and began re-recording the album, dubbed The Lion and the Cobra in reference to Psalm 91; the result was one of the most acclaimed debut records of 1987, with a pair of alternative radio hits in the singles "Mandinka" and "Troy." Almost from the outset of her career, however, O'Connor was a controversial media figure; in interviews following the LP's release, she defended the actions of the IRA, resulting in widespread criticism from many corners, and even burned bridges by attacking longtime supporters U2, whose music she declared "bombastic."

However, O'Connor remained a cult figure prior to the release of 1990's chart-topping I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, a harrowing masterpiece sparked by the recent dissolution of her marriage to drummer John Reynolds. Boosted by the single and video "Nothing Compares 2 U," originally penned by Prince, the album established her as a major star, but again controversy followed as tabloids took aim at her romance with black singer Hugh Harris while continuing to attack her outspoken politics. On American shores, O'Connor also became the target of derision for refusing to perform in New Jersey if "The Star Spangled Banner" was played prior to her appearance, a move which brought public criticism from no less than Frank Sinatra, who threatened to "kick her a**"; she also made headlines for pulling out of an appearance on the NBC program Saturday Night Live in response to the misogynist persona of guest host Andrew Dice Clay, and even withdrew her name from competition in the annual Grammy Awards despite four nominations.

O'Connor also continued to confound expectations with her third album, 1992's Am I Not Your Girl?, a collection of pop standards and torch songs that failed to live up to either the commercial or critical success of I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. However, any discussion of the record's creative merits quickly became moot in the wake of her most controversial and damaging action yet: after finally appearing on Saturday Night Live, O'Connor ended her performance by ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II, resulting in a wave of condemnation unlike any she'd previously encountered. Two weeks after the SNL performance, she appeared at a Bob Dylan tribute concert at New York's Madison Square Garden, and was promptly booed off the stage.

By then a virtual pariah, O'Connor's retirement from the music business was subsequently reported, although it was later claimed that she had merely returned to Dublin with the intent of studying opera. She kept a low profile for the next several years, starring as Ophelia in a theatrical production of Hamlet and later touring with Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival. She also reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown and even made a half-hearted attempt at suicide. In 1994, however, O'Connor returned to pop music with the LP Universal Mother, which, despite good reviews, failed to relaunch her to superstar status; the following year she announced that she would no longer speak to the press. The Gospel Oak EP followed in 1997, and in mid-2000 O'Connor issued Faith and Courage, her first full-length effort in six years. Sean-Nós Nua followed two years later, and was widely hailed for its return to the Irish folk tradition as its inspiration.

O'Connor used the press exposure from the album to further assert her pending retirement from music. In September 2003, the two-disc She Who Dwells... appeared through Vanguard. It collected rare and previously unreleased studio tracks, as well as live material culled from a late 2002 date in Dublin. The album was positioned as O'Connor's swan song, though official word was not forthcoming. Collaborations followed in 2005, a compilation of appearances on other artists' records throughout her long career. Later that year she released Throw Down Your Arms, a collection of reggae classics from the likes of Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, and Bob Marley that managed to reach the number four spot on Billboard's Top Reggae Albums chart. O'Connor returned to the studio the following year to begin work on her first album of all-new material since Faith and Courage. The resulting Theology, inspired by the complexities of the world post-9/11, was released in 2007 through Koch Records on the artist's own imprint, That's Why There's Chocolate & Vanilla. O'Connor's ninth studio, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, tackled familiar subjects like sexuality, religion, hope, and despair, all of which were subjects that dominated her post-Theology personal and public life. After a relatively quiet period, O'Connor found herself once again embroiled in controversy in 2013 after a personal dispute with singer Miley Cyrus, who O'Connor wrote an open letter to warning her of exploitation and the dangers of the music industry. Cyrus also responded with an open letter, which seemed to mock the Irish singer's documented mental health issues. O'Connor's tenth studio album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss appeared in August of 2014. Inspired by a Lean In's female empowerment campaign, Ban Bossy, the album was a rock-oriented and melodious affair as heard on the lead single "Take Me to the Church." ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Take Me To Church (Single)


Track List: How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?

1. 4th And Vine

2. Reason With Me

3. Old Lady

4. Take Off Your Shoes

5. Back Where You Belong

6. The Wolf Is Getting Married

7. Queen Of Denmark

8. Very Far From Home

9. I Had A Baby

10. V.I.P.


Track List: Theology

Disc 1
Disc 2

1. Something Beautiful (London Sessions)

2. We People Who Are Darker Than (London Sessions) Blue

3. Out Of The Depths (London Sessions)

4. 33 (London Sessions)

5. Dark I Am Yet Lovely (London Sessions)

6. I Don't Know How To Love Him (London Sessions)

7. If You Had A Vineyard (London Sessions)

8. The Glory Of Jah (London Sessions)

9. Watcher Of Men (London Sessions)

10. Whomsoever Dwells (London Sessions)

11. Rivers Of Babylon (London Sessions)


Track List: Throw Down Your Arms

1. Jah Nuh Dead

2. Marcus Garvey

3. Door Peep

4. He Prayed

5. Y Mas Gan

6. Curley Locks

7. Vampire

8. Prophet Has Arise

9. Downpressor Man

10. Throw Down Your Arms

11. Untold Stories

12. War


Track List: Universal Mother

1. Germaine

2. Fire On Babylon

3. John I Love You

4. My Darling Child

5. Am I A Human?

6. Red Football

7. All Apologies

8. A Perfect Indian

9. Scorn Not His Simplicity

10. All Babies

11. In This Heart

12. Tiny Grief Song

13. Famine

14. Thank You For Hearing Me


Track List: Am I Not Your Girl?

1. Why Don't You Do Right

2. Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered

3. Secret Love

4. Black Coffee

5. Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home

6. Don't Cry For Me Argentina

7. I Want To Be Loved By You

8. Gloomy Sunday

9. Love Letters

10. How Insensitive

11. Scarlet Ribbons

12. Don't Cry For Me Argentina (Inst.)


Track List: The Lion And The Cobra

1. Jackie

2. Mandinka

3. Jerusalem

4. Just Like U Said It Would B

5. Never Get Old

6. Troy

7. I Want Your Hands On Me

8. Drink Before The War

9. Just Call Me Joe


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Love her and her beautiful voice
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What a moving song
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Lover her and her music..
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Love this song, so sad too
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you can really get hung up on someone
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I love it
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After all is said about this amazing human. .....she will rise!!!!.aga i n . . . J u s t like the PHOENIX! !!!!!
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She's one of the best! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
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I've discovered Sinead--firs t her music now her persona! What a beautiful human being! Any one who speaks ill of her will immediately be removed from my Christmas card list.
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It is stated in the bio, catekenn
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Nothing compares with no doubt to what you have. I never expected to see you in these classrooms. Thank you
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She didn't write this song. Prince did.
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I know she was looked at as a wack job, but I like this song.
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I want to get this from itunes
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You are a great represent of Ireland Ireland will always remember you you should do an album with U2
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I love this song it is so great great job sinead
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Timeless sound - the voice...
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I can't say I ever really liked her music that much when it was released...b u t these days when I hear a song of hers here and there, I realize this girl was a real vocal talent.
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4everrabbith o l e 1
I believe it's Prince who wrote this beautiful song.
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Wonderfull song
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That's bottom line baby
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Nothing compared to U, is all one needs to say. She has got it. The lady is all that and a bag of potatoes. Just saying...... .
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Sinead O'Conner, another good song
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Thank you for your healing music�������
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Yay Sinead for standing up for your faith in God!
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Sinead changed me in a positive way, because of her music, I became the person that I am today and I'm grateful and so blessed to be part of this life time where this opportunity to learn her music has been granted by God, my love goes out to her and her kids, we love us some Ms. O'Connor!!
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Sinead, you're an inspiration to me - a guy who grew up in the 60's and adores spirited people. Keep on keepin' on.
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She has a wonderful voice and her eyes speak of such sadness and hardships...
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*probably (below) hey, probably provably too, if you should count disapproving media stories about notable rappers, vs. those about Sinead!
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Bless God, and bless Pandora, a lane in today's Roman Road, the internet, where people meet people and then people meet Christ... I last recall Sinead being ripped on TV, being called "Sine Aid" after the cold remedy, etc. That she's attacked rather than some cop killer, doggy-style rapper is provably shown in the fact that this song I'm hearing 1st time, is CHRISTIAN! - maybe CCM stations fear her as the first Christians feared Saul-turned- P a u l . Thx for good bio, all new to me, Pandora!
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Sinead has my support forever.
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Love sinead
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she is one of worlds true talent very underrated here in usa
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And she is beautiful! Miley Cyrus is..
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Sinead cut her hair for a good reason, not to get attention like Miley. I'm 9. My generation is traumatizing :-(
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Karen carpenter did best rendition of this song
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Another thing, I don't know why everyone got all hot and bothered with her for ripping up the picture of the pope. DOSE ANYONE ACTUALLY KNOW PAPAL HISTORY! HELLO Borgia, a completely corrupt establishmen t that has been able to shape most of the western world, look up Constantine and the Nisan Creed then come back and tell me how you feel about all your sacred holidays! They stem from the Catholic Church trying to align Christianity with Pagan rituals so that they could bring in more pagans!
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Sinead's voice is a wonder of the world! She has REAL talent SCREW that twerking freak Sinead is the real deal and unafraid to be REAL!! LOVE YOU SINEAD!!
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Sinead is one of a kind in many ways. I'm so blessed because of her music I became the Christian that I am today it's always a such an exciting time to see her play live. I'm so glad she's coming back to L.A. in Nov of this year, much love to a great artist that has no competition in the industry.
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lindajoymill e r
Being real and unafraid' Love her.
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Wow i like her voice!!!! I love this song!!!!
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Was fortunate enough to see her only show in New York City at the Beacon Theater. Sinead was absolutely amazing. Was a musical highlight for me!!!! Forever thankful.
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Sinead O'Connor is one of the GREATEST TALENTS I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. Outspoken, beautiful, brave, courageous.. . . g o r g e o u s music, gorgeous woman & soul. I esp. like Nothing Compares To You, Black Boys on Mopeds, & Mandika. I can't say enough positive things about her. So glad she's still alive on planet earth! Many Blessings, Sinead O'Connor! ~A fan in Vermont, USA xo :)
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I loved the pope comment, she ended up being right.
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Okay, booger. O s**t your like me. lmao. Perhaps I'm f*g baby. Lets keep it simple. buggers. I forgot to think about the things I f**ked up about. O' I'm so dead.
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I applauded her 'Pope incident. Saw it live. She said something before she tore the picture & they cut the camera away. Something like; this is the real enemy or , fight the real enemy. All the molestation rumors were coming true, along with what was happening in Ireland. I could understand her aignst, yet I also figured that'd be the end of her fame. Still one of my favorites & I feel one of the greatest female artists of the 20th century.
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I forgot the word be. I want Ice Cream and a beer, and my boots taken off, and a bl**job would be good, the bills paid, Sunday football after Church, I love these women. S**t.
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While in the hospital, I was offered ordainment - and I thought I was going to read my last rights. The Pope is to white; rather to Italian - get some sun! She has a beautiful heart, and that indeed is plain to see. Too losing my virginity, wait, I'm a man - did I just make a connection with women (hell no, I don't understand women). Laughing.
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I met her briefly. She's sweet and unpretentiou s . All the s**t she got during her career was for simply being honest. 99% of artists don't speak their minds because so many of their fans are closed-minde d and judgmental, and they don't want to risk not being invited to red carpet events. Sinead has had some things to say, and the courage to say them whether some of us agree with then or not. If I saw her again, I'd give her a warm hug and kiss. She has a beautiful heart and that is plain to see
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