The Toronto Sun
June 2, 2000

Kieran Grant


Sinead O'Connor likely will never run out of things to say, but there are two words that she holds particularly dear.

Faith and courage.

They provide a theme for, and name of, her fifth album, Faith And Courage.

"It was the sound of the whole record that made me call it that," O'Connor, a tiny woman with a strong presence, said yesterday while in town to discuss the new disc that comes out June 13.

The Irish singer, who turns 34 this year, rose to fame on the strength of her massive 1990 hit Nothing Compares 2U. Then, through the fuss and furor that surrounded her fall from public grace in the early '90s, and her creative and spiritual re-emergence as not only a singer but a controversial cleric, her faith and courage were shaken, called into question, and ultimately reaffirmed.

Faith And Courage marks the Irish singer's first album since 1994's Universal Mother, and such spiritual concerns clearly reflect the recent developments in her life.


O'Connor kept a relatively low profile following her infamous 1992 SNL appearance in which, in an ill-advised protest against child abuse, she tore up a picture of the Pope. Much acrimony and a personal breakdown followed.

Controversy was stirred up again two years ago when she became an ordained priest in the Latin Tridentine Church, a Catholic offshoot led by "renegade" Bishop Michael Cox.

Though she covered up her heavy gold crucifix for a Sun photographer yesterday, she was unflinchingly open and positive about the religious outlook that runs through her album.

She also is prepared for misunderstandings. Her jaunty lead single, No Man's Woman, has already ruffled a few feathers for its supposedly male-bashing sentiments.

"The song just talks about wanting to have a relationship with the spirit of man, rather than necessarily being a girlfriend or a wife," she said. "The album is like that, insofar as it tricks you in with a few poppy ideas at first, but then it takes you on a trip that does something for your belly, rather than your brain, hopefully."

The album is infused heavily with reggae and touches of Celtic and Gospel tradition, and boasts a disparate range of collaborators -- including producers Dave Stewart and Adrian Sherwood, Wyclef Jean and Brian Eno, just to name
a few.

"It's a soul record, not in a technical sense but in an emotional one," O'Connor said. "To a certain extent, I really feel that one's subconscious, or soul, is the thing that's doing the work in music.-

"I understand that the soul has something to tell me. I think that's what all artistic work is -- a person's soul trying to communicate with them. So I don't ever worry, because I have faith in my soul, and courage because of my faith, if you like."

That courage is reflected in O'Connor's religious beliefs.


"Human beings unfortunately have been trained to see things in terms of negativity," she said. "There are great things about organized religion, and great things about (questioning it). It's a matter of getting the sides to hold hands, and I think that will happen. Instead of destruction of the church, it'll be cleaned out and open its mind to things like homosexuality. People like me can help the Church do that."

O'Connor plans to play select dates in support of Faith And Courage, but her devotion to son Jake, 13, and daughter Roisin, 4, means she won't tour. "Everyone, I imagine, has on their death bed one thing they hope they got  right," she said. "I'll hope I was a good enough mother. I put that before anything else."