Sinéad O’Connor has died aged 56, reports the Irish Times.
In a statement, her family said: “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.”
The Irish musician, who legally changed her name to Shuhada' Sadaqat in 2021 after converting to Islam in 2018 but continued to record, release and perform music under her birth name, was best known for 1990 single ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, written by Prince, which became a worldwide hit, topping the charts in 13 countries spanning four continents. It was named the Number One world single in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards.
She released 10 studio albums across her decades-spanning career, from her 1987 debut ‘The Lion and the Cobra’ to 2014 LP ‘I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss’.
‘The Lion and the Cobra’ featured singles ‘Tears from the Moon’ and ‘Troy’ which both earned nominations at the International Dance Music Awards for Best Progressive House/Trance Track. The former hit Number 1 on the World Dance/Trance Top 20 Singles, and a 2002 remake of the latter titled ‘Troy (The Phoenix from the Flame)’ ranked highly among global dance charts, including a Top 10 placing on the US Dance Club Songs chart.
In 1991 she turned down a GRAMMY Award, explaining: “As artists, I believe our function is to express the feelings of the human race–to always speak the truth and never keep it hidden even though we are operating in a world which does not like the sound of the truth. I believe that our purpose is to inspire and, in some way, guide and heal the human race, of which we are all equal members.
“They [awards] acknowledge mostly the commercial side of art. They respect mostly material gain since that is the main reason for their existence. And they have created a great respect among artists for material gain — by honouring us and exalting us when we achieve it, ignoring, for the most part, those of us who have not.”
She was an early and vocal protestor against child abuse in the Catholic church. In 1992, she made headlines around the world during a performance on US show Saturday Night Live for tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II and shouting “fight the real enemy!”.
The protest was hugely damaging to her career as a mainstream artist, receiving widespread criticism, demands to apologise to Catholics, being banned from appearing on NBC and being booed off stage at a Bob Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden two weeks later, but in more recent years opinion has turned after the Catholic Church child sexual abuse scandal came under investigation, including a Vatican statement from Pope Francis in 2021 saying he "felt pain" and hoped for a "path of redemption" following findings.
In 2021 she released a memoir titled Rememberings, and last year a documentary film about her life titled Nothing Compares, directed by Kathryn Ferguson, came out, earning 24 nominations and 10 wins across various film awards and festivals.
O’Connor announced plans to immediately retire from the music industry on June 4, 2021, ahead of the release of a planned final album ‘No Veteran Dies Alone’ in 2022.
She shared a statement saying: “This is to announce my retirement from touring and from working in the record business. I've gotten older and I'm tired. So it's time for me to hang up my nipple tassels, having truly given my all. NVDA in 2022 will be my last release. And there'll be no more touring or promo.”
She retracted the statement three days later on June 7 after receiving “astonishing support”, calling the announcement “a knee-jerk reaction.”
The planned release of the ‘No Veteran Dies Alone’ album in 2022 has been postponed several times and has yet to come out.
She had four children. Her son Shane died last year aged 17.
Tributes have poured in from across the music world. Read some below.
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Editor & Digital Director, follow him on Twitter
Oh Sinead O’Connor, no, that’s a terrible loss. What a singer and what a brave brave woman. Heartbreaking news.— Tracey Thorn (@tracey_thorn) July 26, 2023
Devastated to hear of the passing of #SineadOConnor . Back in the 90’s she came over to my tiny room in a shared flat in Tooting and we jammed together for ages. She was so kind to my flat mates including @MykolachiHello who she sweetly complimented on her red coat… She stayed…— Nitin Sawhney (@thenitinsawhney) July 26, 2023