Sinéad O’Connor

Sinéad O'Connor Headshot

Musician • Singer • Songwriter • Activist

Birth Date: December 8, 1966

Death Date: July 26, 2023

Birth Place: Dublin, Ireland

Irish singer/songwriter Sinead O'Connor has had one of the dramatic careers of the past few decades, though it began with a rush of creative and commercial success. Growing up in a religious County Dublin family, she rebelled as a teenager and was sent to one of the notorious Magdalene Asylums as punishment for truancy. Here she began writing music, and was briefly associated with the folk-rock band In Tua Nua.

Another band she fell in with was U2, through her manager Fachtna O'Ceallaigh who was associated with the band. She worked on some soundtrack music with guitarist the Edge and sang on the track "Heroine," from the movie Captive. However she became estranged from U2 after criticizing them in some interviews; not the last time her opinions would cause trouble.

Her debut album The Lion & the Cobra appeared in 1987 and was a worldwide hit, mixing dark-toned balladry with edgy rock and Celtic influences; the most rocking track "Mandinka" became a US radio hit. She toured America with a rhythm section borrowed from the Smiths; her onstage intensity and memorable shaven-headed look proved distinctive. The followup album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got did even better, with a cover of the Prince song "Nothing Compares 2U" topping charts worldwide.

For better or worse, the followup tour included the pivotal moment in her career. Appearing on Saturday Night Live in October 1992, she first did the Prince song and then an a cappella version of Bob Marley's "War," changing the lyrics to reference child abuse. At song's end she displayed a photo of the Pope and said "Fight the real enemy," then tore up the photo and threw it into the camera. Though apparently well received at the time (the TV broadcast caught someone yelling "Bravo" in response), it led to much harsh criticism. Two weeks after the performance she was booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden during Bob Dylan's tribute concert.

Her personal life continued to be tumultuous, including for marriages and numerous custody battles; she came out as a lesbian in 2000 but rescinded the claim soon afterward. She also fought publically with a number of music figures including Miley Cyrus and Prince. Nonetheless she continued to release quality albums, alternating genre-specific cover projects (jazz vocals on 1992's Am I Not Your Girl?, Irish traditional on 2002's Sean Nos-Nua) with original albums-including 2014's I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss-- that put her personal struggles into context.

She appeared to have hit bottom in August 2017, when she posted a video on her Facebook page that revealed she was living in a Travelodge in New Jersey, apparently losing a battle with mental illness. Nonetheless she rebounded and began working on new music. During August 2018 she announced that her name was now Magda Davitt, and released the demo of a new song, "Milestones," that got a favorable reaction; the full album No Mud No Lotus was promised for 2019.

Another purported name change, and an announced conversion to Islam, followed in October 2018. Sinead O'Connor died on or approximately July 26, 2023 at the age of 56.

Credits

Sinéad O'Connor at the BBC

Music Performer
Show
2024

Celine Byrne's Christmas Selection Box

Music Performer
Show
2023

Nothing ComparesStream

Self
Movie
2022
99%

The Mighty Ocean

Music Performer
Show
2021

Citizens of Boomtown

Guest
Show
2020

Citizens of Boomtown

Self
Show
2020

Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan

Self
Movie
2020

'90s One Hit Wonders

Music Performer
Show
2019

Play Hits - Grandes Vozes 4

Music Performer
Show
2017

Good Morning Britain

Guest
Show
2014

Sinéad O'Connor: 8 Good Reasons

Music Performer
Show
2014

Night of the Proms

Music Performer
Show
2013

Out of Ireland: The Hit Songs and Artists of Irish Music

Actor
Show
2012

Sinead O'Connor: Goodnight, Thank You, You've Been a Lovely Audience

Actor
Show
2012

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight

Guest
Show
2010

Skavlan

Guest
Show
2009

The Graham Norton ShowStream

Guest Star
Talk
2007

The One Show

Guest
Show
2006

etalk

Guest
Show
2006

Tavis Smiley

Guest
Talk
2004

Dr. PhilStream

Guest
Talk
2002

The Late Late Show

Guest
Show
2002

Sinead O'Connor: Nothing Compares 2 U (Live)

Music Performer
Show
2002

StigmataStream

Original Music
Movie
1999
22%

You've Got MailStream

Original Music
Movie
1998
70%

The ViewStream

Guest
Talk
1997

The Butcher Boy

Actor
Our Lady/Colleen
Movie
1997

Butcher Boy: Contracorriente

Actor
Movie
1997

Michael CollinsStream

Original Music
Movie
1996
78%

MTV Unplugged

Self
Show
1993

Hush-a-Bye Baby

Actor
Sinéad
Movie
1989

Hush-a-Bye Baby

Original Music
Movie
1989

Saturday Night LiveStream

Music Performer
Series
1975

Today

Guest
News
1952

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