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Sinead Sings And Speaks Her Mind

In her 13 years in the music industry, Sinead O'Connor has been no stranger to headlines, controversy and great reviews for her work. She's back now with Faith And Courage, her first full length album of new material in six years. She performed several of her new songs on Tuesday's edition of The Early Show.

O'Connor's latest album blends traditional Irish instrumentation with modern programming. There is everything from penny whistles to drum machines. She wrote 10 of the 13 songs on Faith and Courage.

The first single of the album, No Man's Woman, is a song that she co-wrote about celibacy. She says that she has a high calling toward celibacy, but in a letter sent to the Hot Press Magazine on June 8, 2000 she reportedly wrote, "I am a lesbian. I love men, but I prefer sex with women, and I prefer romantic relationships with women."

A few weeks before that, she reportedly told the same publication, "I don't believe there's any such thing as gay or straight. And though I have slept with women, I am much more attracted to men."

But O'Connor was more interested in talking about her art Tuesday. When CBS News Entertainment Reporter Mark McEwen mentioned that he hears echos of Sinead in the music of the Cranberries and Alanis Morissette, O'Connor replied: "Equally, the way I feel is that I was influenced by other people that came before me. Do you know what I mean? I was impersonating them on my first few records... We're all influenced by each other."

In 1997, she was ordained by controversial Irish clergyman Bishop Michael Cox; she changed her name to Mother Bernadette Maria. But when McEwen he asked about her priesthood, she said, "I understand why you have to ask that. But it's very important for me not to really talk about it, because I didn't do it for publicity reasons, and if I talk about it, it feeds the suggestion that I did."

Furthermore, she told him she was not interested in talking about things he reads about her in the newspapers.

"I don't want things to overshroud my records," she said. "I have had 13 years of a lot of issues. I deserve to really be respected just as an artist."

Then McEwen pointed out that controversy does follow her around.

"That's the way things used to be," she says. "But I'm 33 years of age now. I was 20 when my first record came out, then 23. In your 20s, people are controversial. You're feisty and whatever… For example, child abuse was a lot of what I was writing about. That could be challenging. I feel very differently about that now. I really want to be respected for the artist I am and not be overshrouded by a whole lot of rubbish."

O'Connor has no plans for an extended tour. "I have two kids. I don't want to leave them. My daughter's only 4, and she really needs my attention."

  • The third of four children, O'Connor was born Dec. 8, 1966 in Dublin, Ireland.
  • She had a difficult childhood. After her parents separated when she was 8 years old, she was expelled from several schools and sent to reform school.
  • In 1985, her mother died in a car accident and soon after O'Connor claimed she had been abused by her mother.
  • She was discovered at the age of 15 by Paul Byrne, drummer of In Tua Nua and co-wrote a song for the band.
  • She dropped out of boarding school the following year and went to study music and piano at Dublin's college of music.
  • Ensign Records became interested in her and at its request O'Connor moved to London where she worked with U2 for the soundtrack of the film The Captive in 1986.
  • In 1987, she produced The Lion and the Cobra, her own LP, making her debut with moderate success.
  • Soon after, she drew media attention for calling U2's work "bombastic," for defending the IRA and for firing her manager Fatchtna O'Ceallaigh.
  • In 1988, she married her drummer, John Raynolds, who is the father of her son, Jake. The marriage did not last long.
  • In 1990 her album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got went triple platinum with the Prince-penned single Nothing Compares 2 U hitting No.1 in the U.S.
  • That year was also full of controversial news regarding O'Connor.
    • She announced that Prince had threatened her.
    • The British tabloids attacked her romance with black singer Hugh Harris.
    • She refused to perform a scheduled concert in New Jersey if the hall played The Star Spangled Banner. Frank Sinatra publicly attacked her behavior.
    • She was nominated for four Grammy Awards, but she withdrew from the competition.
    • She cancelled a Saturday Night Live performance after learning comedian Andrew Dice Clay would host the show.
  • In 1992 she released Am I Not Your Girl? a collection of songs associated with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
  • She also ignited public outcry when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II during an SNL performance on Oct. 3, 1992.
  • Two weeks later, she was booed off the stage at a nationally televised Bob Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.
  • In 1993, she toured with Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival and reportedly attempted suicide.
  • The following year, she released Universal Mother, a collection of political declarations, ballads and hip-hop songs.
  • O'Connor became romantically involved with Irish Times columnist John Waters and was pregnant again.
  • In 1997, she released The Gospel Oak and the following year she changed record companies, from EMI to Atlantic. Bt her career was on hold, caught in a bitter child custody battle with Waters after she attempted suicide in 1999 by swallowing 20 Valium tablets.
  • Connor then decided to become a Catholic priest and was ordained by controversial Irish clergyman Bishop Michael Cox; she changed her name to Mother Bernadette Maria. Her title: archdeacon.

  • So Far: The Best of Sinead O'Connor (1997)
  • Gospel Oak (EP) (1997)
  • Universal Mother (1994)
  • Am I Not Your Girl? (1992)
  • I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (1990)
  • The Lion and the Cobra (1987)
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