Brash and outspoken — her shaved head, pained expression, and shapeless wardrobe a direct challenge to popular culture’s long-prevailing notions of femininity and sexuality — O’Connor changed the image of women in music in the early 1990s. She was a star from her 1987 debut album “The Lion and the Cobra” and became a sensation in 1990 with her cover of Prince’s ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U”, a seething, shattering performance that topped charts from Europe to Australia and was heightened by a promotional video featuring the gray-eyed O’Connor in intense close-up. The video has subsequently been viewed almost 400 million times on YouTube. “Nothing Compares 2 U” got three Grammy nominations and was the featured track off her acclaimed album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”, which helped lead Rolling Stone to name her Artist of the Year in 1991.
She was a lifelong non-conformist — she would say that she shaved her head in response to record executives pressuring her to be conventionally glamorous — but her political and cultural stances and troubled private life often overshadowed her music. She feuded with Frank Sinatra over her refusal to allow the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at one of her shows and accused Prince of physically threatening her. In 1989 she declared her support for the Irish Republican Army, a statement she retracted a year later. Acritic of the Catholic Church, O’Connor made headlines in October 1992 when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while appearing live on “Saturday Night Live” and denounced the church as the enemy. Days later, she appeared at an all-star tribute for Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden and was booed. “Everyone wants a pop star” she wrote in her memoir “Rememberings”. “But I am a protest singer. I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame. ” She converted to Islam in 2018 and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat, though continued to perform under the name Sinead O’Connor.