Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor has passed away, aged 56.
Her untimely death was announced by a statement from her family:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time,” it reads.
Sinéad O’Connor courted both fame and controversy during her career. Best-known for her 1990 cover of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, Sinéad was also an outspoken artist with a rebellious, punk rock spirit.
She was born in Dublin in 1966, at the onset of The Troubles. Through a tumultuous upbringing, Sinéad found her voice as a defiant artist. Her 1987 debut album ‘The Lion And The Cobra’ was an instant hit, reaching gold status and earning her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
International fame came with her unforgettable and perhaps definitive rendition of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, the lead single from her 1990 sophomore album ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got’.
In 1992, Sinéad took the boldest step of her career when she appeared on Saturday Night Live. During her performance, she tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II and said “fight the real enemy” in protest of the cover-up of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church.
The act inspired universal rage among the Catholic community and became the defining image of Sinéad. But her bravery came at a cost as Sinéad was maligned, threatened and mocked for her actions.
When she was booed on stage at a Bob Dylan tribute concert, Kris Kristofferson advised her to not let the bastards ger her down, and she never did. Sinéad continued to write, record and perform throughout her career, persisting as a defiant figure and proud troublemaker.
In her 2021 memoir ‘Rememberings’, Sinéad said: “Everyone wants a pop star, see? But I am a protest singer. I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame.”
Sinéad changed her name to Magda Davitt in 2017 and subsequently Shuhada’ Sadaqat when she converted to Islam in 2018, while still working as Sinéad O’Connor until her death.
Along with her musical talent and outspoken nature, Sinéad is also being remembered for her warmth and humour. She was never afraid to speak her mind or sing what was in her heart.