Sinéad O'Connor, Nothing Compares 2 You singer, dies at 56

Publish Date
Thursday, 27 July 2023, 6:23AM

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

Early reports have not indicated a cause of death.

The Irish Times reported her passing this morning (NZT).

Her family has since released a statement confirming the singer’s death.

“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 family said in a statement.

The Dublin-born performer released 10 studio albums, while her song Nothing Compares 2 U (originally written by Prince) was named the number one world single in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards.

Sinead O'Connor receives the Classic Irish Album award for 'I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got' at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize at Vicar Street on March 9. Photo / Kieran Frost, Redferns, Getty Images via NZ Herald

She was last seen at a public appearance when she was presented with the inaugural award for Classic Irish Album at the RTÉ Choice Music Awards earlier this year.

The singer received a standing ovation as she dedicated the award, for I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, to “each and every member of Ireland’s refugee community”.

O’Connor converted to Islam in 2018 and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat, though she continued to perform under the name Sinead O’Connor. She released a memoir two years ago titled Rememberings.

In 1992, O’Connor tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live, causing widespread outcry and controversy.

Two weeks after the Saturday Night Live appearance, she was due to perform at a Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary tribute concert in Madison Square Garden.

She was greeted by a thundering mixture of cheers and jeers. During the booing, Kris Kristofferson joined her on the stage and told her not to “let the bastards get you down”. She replied, “I’m not down.”

O’Connor’s 17-year-old son, Shane, was found dead in Ireland in January 2022 after she notified authorities that he had gone missing.

Police said the missing person case was closed after a body was found in the eastern coastal town of Bray, about 20km south of Dublin.

O’Connor posted on Twitter that her son, “the very light of my life, decided to end his earthly struggle today and is now with God. May he rest in peace and may no one follow his example. My baby, I love you so much. Please be at peace.”

O’Connor had four children: Jake, with her first husband John Reynolds; Roisin, with John Waters; Shane, with Donal Lunny; and Yeshua Bonadio, with Frank Bonadio.

Fans have taken to social media to express their sadness at the news of the singer’s death, with many mourning the loss of one of the most talented musicians of her generation.

‘One of our greatest and most gifted composers’: Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, has issued a statement following the death of the singer.

In it, he sent his condolences to the family and said that the country had lost one of its greatest performers.

He also praised O’Connor’s “fearless commitment” to important issues.

“May I send my deepest condolences to Sinéad O’Connor’s father John, the members of her family and to all those with whom she shared her life,” Higgins said in the statement.

“My first reaction on hearing the news of Sinéad’s loss was to remember her extraordinarily beautiful, unique voice. What was striking in all of the recordings she made and in all of her appearances was the authenticity of the performance, while her commitment to the delivery of the song and its meaning was total.

“To those of us who had the privilege of knowing her, one couldn’t but always be struck by the depth of her fearless commitment to the important issues which she brought to public attention, no matter how uncomfortable those truths may have been,” he continued.

“What Ireland has lost at such a relatively young age is one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades, one who had a unique talent and extraordinary connection with her audience, all of whom held such love and warmth for her.

“The way in which she was able to move across the different forms of the arts was a singular achievement, as was the way her voice went around the world and how it was received. Her accomplishments included a body of work for film through the production of perfectly chosen and widely acclaimed lyrics.

“Sinéad O’Connor’s voice and delivery was in so many different ways original, extraordinary and left one with a deep deep impression that to have accomplished all she did while carrying the burden which she did was a powerful achievement in its own way.

“Her contribution joins those great contributions of Irish women who contributed to our lives, its culture and its history in their own unique but unforgettable ways.

“May her spirit find the peace she sought in so many different ways.”

This article was first published in the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.

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