O’Connor was born in Glenageary in County Dublin and was named after Sinéad de Valera, wife of Irish President Éamon de Valera and mother of the doctor presiding over the delivery, and Saint Bernadette of Lourdes.
She is the third of five children, sister to Joseph, Eimear, John, and Eoin.
Joseph O’Connor is a novelist.
In 1979, O’Connor left her mother and went to live with her father and his new wife.
However, at the age of 15, her shoplifting and truancy led to her being placed for eighteen months in a Magdalene Asylum, the Grianán Training Centre run by the Order of Our Lady of Charity.
In some ways, she thrived there, especially in the development of her writing and music, but she also chafed under the imposed conformity.
Unruly students there were sometimes sent to sleep in the adjoining nursing home, an experience of which she later commented, “I have never—and probably will never—experience such panic and terror and agony over anything.”
In 1983, her father sent her to Newtown School, an exclusive Quaker boarding school in Waterford, an institution with a much more permissive atmosphere than Grianan.
With the help and encouragement of her Irish language teacher, Joseph Falvey, she recorded a four-song demo, with two covers and two of her own songs which later appeared on her first album.
Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor (born 8 December 1966) is an Irish singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra.
O’Connor achieved worldwide success in 1990 with a new arrangement of Prince’s song “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
O’Connor’s next studio outing, Am I Not Your Girl? was a surprise; it was a collection of torch songs associated with such singers as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
Controversy continued throughout 1992, though: She tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II in an appearance on Saturday Night Live, and two weeks later she was booed at a Bob Dylan tribute at Madison Square Garden.
Also in 1992 the English rock paper Melody Maker reported O’Connor’s imminent retirement from music; her publicist clarified that the singer was merely tired of “promoting” her career, but would in fact return to Dublin to study opera.
O’Connor’s personal life continued to interest the tabloids: A 1999 custody battle for her young daughter ended when she agreed to joint custody with the father, Dublin journalist John Waters.
Upon the release of Faith and Courage, the singer declared to various interviewers she was a lesbian, though subsequent comments were contradictory, at times declaring her love for men while claiming to be celibate.
And while praising both Buddhism and the Rastafarian religions, O’Connor was ordained as a priest by a Roman Catholic splinter group called the Latin Tridentine Church, taking the clerical name Mother Bernadette Maria.
In 2000, O’Connor signed to Atlantic records and announced the impending release of her first album in six years, ‘Faith & Courage’.
On the eve of its release, she came out as a lesbian but later retracted the announcement.
On 8 November 2011, she released her new single ‘How About I Be Me’ – also inspired by Reggae – which comes from her upcoming album ‘How About I Be Me and You Be You’ set for release on 20 February 2012.