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Irish Singer Sinéad O’Connor Passes Away At Age 56

Irish Singer Sinéad O’Connor Passes Away At Age 56

Sinéad O'Connor

Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor has died at age 56. 

“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,” O’Connor’s family said in a statement to The Irish Times and the BBC. A cause of death was not given.

O’Connor, who courted controversy throughout her long career, rose to fame with her 1990 rendition of the Prince song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. 

Her 17-year-old son, Shane O’Connor, died of an apparent suicide last year. She announced his passing in January 2022.  

In her lengthy career, she released 10 studio albums, kicking off with her 1987 alternative rock debut, “The Lion and the Cobra.”

O’Connor, who was born in Dublin, made as many headlines for her activism and provocations as she did for her music.

In 1991 she said she would boycott the Grammy awards, claiming the Recording Academy awarded artists based on commercial success.  

In October 1992, she infamously tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II and said “Fight the real enemy” as she performed as a musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.” She said the move was in protest of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. 

The move was met with an onslaught of high-profile criticism, with actor Joe Pesci threatening to smack her in his “Saturday Night Live” monologue and Madonna mocking her on the same stage by ripping up a photo of Long Island sex offender Joey Buttafuoco, saying, “Fight the real enemy.” Frank Sinatra went as far as to call her “one stupid broad.” The move was also criticized by the Anti-Defamation League.

“I’m not sorry I did it. It was brilliant,” O’Connor told The New York Times in 2021. “But it was very traumatizing.”

Even though she declared that she was not a mainstream pop star, she was nominated for several Grammys and won for best alternative music performance for “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” in 1991. 

For much of her career, she spoke candidly and openly about her spiritual life, political views and struggles with mental health, which she detailed in her 2021 memoir, “Rememberings.” 

In 2018, O’Connor converted to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada.

“This is to announce that I am proud to have become a Muslim,” she wrote on Twitter on October 2018. “This is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey. All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant.”

The prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, tweeted Wednesday: “Really sorry to hear of the passing of Sinéad O’Connor. Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare. Condolences to her family, her friends and all who loved her music.”

Tributes and condolences poured in from across the spectrum of public figures.

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Irish MMA champion Connor McGregor tweeted that the “world has lost an artist with the voice of an Angel.”

“Ireland has lost an iconic voice and one of our absolute finest, by a long shot,” McGregor said. “And I have lost a friend. Sinead’s music will live on and continue to inspire! Rest In Peace, Sinead you are home with your son I am sure.”

American hip-hop icon and actor Ice T also praised O’Connor. “Respect to Sinead….. She stood for something… Unlike most people…. Rest Easy,” he tweeted.

Canadian professional wrestler and WWE star Sami Zayn said “a chill ran through my body reading that Sinéad O’Connor has passed away.”

“She dealt with a lot. I don’t know why but I always felt a strong connection to her. Very, very sad. RIP Shuhada,” Zayn tweeted.

The American and Scottish rock band Garbage wrote, “This disgusting world broke her and kept on breaking her.”

“Godspeed dear fragile dove,” the band wrote on Instagram. “Thank you for all the beauty and all the wise teachings you offered up to us.”

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