SINGER-songwriter Sinéad O'Connor always knew she wanted to make music.

And the Nothing Compares 2 U star, a headliner at this year’s Ramsbottom Festival, taking place from September 13 to 15, has an unlikely turn of events to thank for helping her on her musical path.

At the age of 15, shoplifting and truancy landed her in a Magdalene Asylum, run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.

The 46-year-old, born in Glenageary, Ireland, said: “In those days, my headmaster was writing to my parents saying he didn’t want me bringing my guitar to school.

“I was a school refuser, I wouldn’t go. I handed in empty copy books.

“As a result of refusing to go to school and me being a bit of a thief, I ended up in what you would loosely call a correctional facility.

“The nun in charge of the place recognised I was into music and she bought me a guitar.

“She was somebody very important.

“There was a punk rock shop in Dublin I made her take to me to — she was a pretty cool nun!

“God works in mysterious ways, the fact I was a thief who wouldn’t go to school.”

This led the teenage Sinéad to taking guitar lessons and writing her first song, although she had known many years earlier music was her passion.

She said: “I think I realised fairly young, about four years of age.

“I started when I was walking round. I started hearing melodies with my foot steps.”

Sinéad, set to appear at the festival on the Sunday evening, remembers hearing music in anything with rhythm, from the tapping of stiletto heels to the tick tocking of clocks.

With her emotional delivery and confessional songs, the Grammy Award winner has sold millions of albums, including 1987 debut The Lion and the Cobra and I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.

Brazenly outspoken and sporting her iconic shaven head, she has strongly expressed views on everything from organised religion, women’s rights, war and child abuse.

But despite her feisty persona, the mother-of-four admits still getting nervous before live performances.

Sinéad, who played the acoustic tent at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, said: “Yeah, I think all of us do, all musicians really are pretty nervous for the first half of the gig. You are frightened at the same time. You don’t stop thinking til half way through.”

And she says she still relishes performing her 1990 hit Nothing Compares 2 U, saying “That’s the big one”, but her favourite song is The Healing Room, from 2000 album Faith and Courage.

Sinéad says a musical highlight was appearing at the Here But I’m Gone: A 70th Birthday Tribute to Curtis Mayfield last July She said: “There was a bunch of artists on what would’ve been his birthday. That was a great gig for me.”

But she says she is happy to appear on stage, whatever the gig.

“It shouldn’t matter if there’s two people in the audience or 2,000.

“I’m addicted to playing and I love it.”

Sinéad O'Connor will appear at the Ramsbottom Festival, which takes place at Ramsbottom Cricket Club from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September.

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