Sinead O’Connor, Dead at 56

Sinead O’Connor, best known for her rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares to You,” is confirmed dead at only 56 years old.

I  remember being in junior high, watching her on MTV. I was in awe of her beautiful face and I didn’t understand the shaved head, but it was apparent that this was a woman with a rebel heart.

The tears she shed in Nothing Compares 2 U were completely authentic, as the song reminded her of the death of her mother. Her deep feelings were easy to absorb just by watching her performance.

Unfortunately, off stage, her ideas didn’t jive with mine. She once refused to play a New Jersey stadium unless they didn’t play the National Anthem. After much back and forth, they finally gave in. But, radio stations boycotted her music after that.

Later, I learned that her defiant nature stemmed from abuse she suffered as a child. She was even held in a Dublin reformatory school.

Like most great artists, she had a tortured soul.

O’Connor’s obituary adds:

It was music that rescued her, unleashing a creative talent that made her a worldwide music star – but also a rebel prepared to be controversial and never play the game of being an image-led pop star.

With her elfin features and skinhead look she was one of pop music’s most recognisable figures.

Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor was born on 8 December 1966 in the affluent Glenageary suburb of Dublin.

She was the third of five children of Sean O’Connor and his wife Marie. The couple had married young and their relationship, often stormy, ended when O’Connor was eight.

Her brother, Joseph, once described their mother as deeply unhappy and disturbed and prone to physical and emotional abuse of her children.

O’Connor eventually moved out to go and live with her father but she often played truant to go shoplifting.

Eventually 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.

One nun discovered that the only way to keep this rebellious teenager in check was by buying her a guitar and setting her up with a music teacher. It was to be the saving of her.

A volunteer at the institution had a brother who played in the Irish band In Tua Nua. She did record a song with them but they felt she was too young to become a full-time member.

According to the BBC:

She was best known for her single Nothing Compares 2 U, released in 1990, which went on to hit number one around the world.

Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar paid tribute to her, saying her music “was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare”.

The singer, who was outspoken in her social and political views, brought out 10 studio albums in all.

Her first album The Lion and the Cobra came out in 1987, entering the top 40 in the UK and US.

Her follow up I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which included Nothing Compares 2 U, was a number one hit.

The Dublin singer’s 17-year-old son Shane died last year, days after he was reported missing.

Writing on social media following his death, she said he had “decided to end his earthly struggle” and requested “no-one follows his example”.

Converting to Islam in 2018, changing her name to Shuhada’, but continued to perform under her birth name.

O’Connor also publicly shamed Miley Cyrus for creating overtly sexual videos. Of course, Cyrus simply called her “crazy” when she heard the criticism. O’Connor also wrote a memoir, “Rememberings” in 2010.

After the death of her son Shane, O’Connor was also hospitalized for suicidal ideation.

In the end,

Sinéad O’Connor was a precocious talent who used music as a means of dealing with the demons inside her. A contradictory figure in many ways, she always refused to toe the establishment line, something that saw her achieve less success than she deserved.

The singer though was unapologetic and unrepentant for those life choices. “I always say, if you live with the devil, you find out there’s a god.”


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