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26 July 2023

Sinéad O’Connor, Irish Singer And Activist, Dies Aged 56

Sinéad O'Connor
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Sinéad O’Connor, the Irish singer and activist, has died at the age of 56.

In a statement, the singer’s 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.”

O’Connor was born in south Dublin in 1966. As a teenager, she was placed in Dublin’s An Grianan Training Centre, once one of the notorious Magdalene laundries, originally set up to incarcerate young girls deemed to be promiscuous. Later she would famously criticise the Catholic Church, most notably by ripping up a photograph of Pope John Paul II on US TV show Saturday Night Live. The episode damaged her career, but her actions have been applauded since for her willingness to speak truth to power. “I’m not sorry I did it. It was brilliant,” she said in an interview with the New York Times in 2021.

One nun bought her a guitar and set her up with a music teacher – which led to the launch of O’Connor’s musical career. O’Connor’s debut album, the beloved and influential The Lion and the Cobra, was released in 1987. Her second studio album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990), was her commercial breakthrough, selling over seven million copies worldwide. Its lead single, her timeless version of Prince‘s Nothing Compares 2 U, was named the number one world single in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards. The music video has been viewed on YouTube more than 400m times.

She went on to release 10 studio albums: 1992’s Am I Not Your Girl? and 1994’s Universal Mother both went gold in the UK, 2000’s Faith and Courage received gold status in Australia, and 2005’s Throw Down Your Arms went gold in Ireland. Her work also includes songs for films, collaborations with many other artists, and appearances at charity fundraising concerts. Her 2021 memoir Rememberings was a best seller.

Converting to Islam in 2018, The Dublin singer changed her name to Shuhada, but continued to perform under her birth name.

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