Sinéad O’Connor is one of the most distinctive and controversial pop music stars of the alternative era. The first and in many ways, the most influential of numerous female performers whose music dominated airwaves throughout the last decade of the 20th century.
O’Connor was born in Ireland in 1966 and spent a difficult childhood living in conservative Dublin. At 15, singing Barbra Streisand’s ‘Evergreen’ at a wedding, she was discovered by Paul Byrne, the drummer for In Tua Nua, a band affiliated with U2. She co-wrote in Tua Nua’s first single, ‘Take My Hand’, and began singing Dylan covers in coffeehouses. Fleeing boarding school at 16, she then studied singing and piano at Dublin’s College of Music.
Moving to London in the early 1980s at the behest of Ensign Records, O’Connor collaborated with U2 guitarist The Edge on The Captive’s film soundtrack while preparing her debut album. After scrapping the initial tapes on the grounds that the production was too Celtic, she took the producer seat herself and began re-recording the entire LP. Dubbed The Lion and the Cobra, it was one of the most acclaimed debut records of 1987, with a pair of alternative radio hits in the singles ‘Mandinka’and ‘Troy’.
O’Connor remained a cult figure prior to the release of her 1990’s chart-topping I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got album. Boosted by the single and video ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, originally penned by Prince, the album established her as a major star. The enduring appeal of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, which topped the US charts, is evidenced by its top ranking position in the world’s most streamed songs. To this day, O’Connor continues making hit LPs and playing sell-out across the globe.