Saturday, July 29, 2023

Sinéad O’Connor’s Incredible Impact

The music industry has suffered another heartbreaking loss - Irish singer, Sinéad O’Connor’s death was announced on the 26th July. She was only 56.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad”, was what her family issued in their statement via BBC News, and the mourning fans flooded social media with their condolences shortly after. 

O’Connor left such a huge mark on not just music, but activism too, so the death of such an incredible individual has understandably left a huge hole in people’s hearts. Following the news of her death, an influx of tributes flooded social media from celebrities such as Alanis Morissette, Russell Crowe, and Janelle Monáe. P!NK and Brandi Carlisle even came together to perform ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ as a tribute.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, her adolescence was shrouded with tragedy - suffering abuse at the hands of her own mother, being arrested, sent away to an asylum, and losing her mother in a car accident. Sinéad was discovered at the age of 15 by Tua Nua’s drummer, Paul Byrne, but wasn’t signed until 1985 at 18 by Ensign Records after being recognised for her talent in the band Ton Ton Macoute. 

The legendary singer made her debut on the soundtrack for the movie ‘Captive’ with the Edge, U2’s drummer. 1987 marked the debut of her first album, ‘The Lion and the Cobra’ in which she earned a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. The real success started pouring in following the release of the critically acclaimed album ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got’ (1990) featuring ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’.

However, the success seemed to be short-lived since she had her fair share of controversies following this. Most notably, she received backlash from none other than Frank Sinatra after refusing to perform if the United States National Anthem was played. She ended up withdrawing her four Grammy nominations and was subsequently booed off stage at a Bob Dylan tribute concert. 

One of the most infamous moments attached to O’Connor was her Saturday Night Live appearance in 1992. After previously pulling out of the show, she then went on to perform Bob Marley’s ‘War’ and then tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II in protest of the child abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church. This now iconic moment caused outrage, but summarises her bravery that marked her career. 

She utilised her voice to draw attention to causes such as feminism, civil rights, the LGBTQ+ Community, and even raised awareness of HIV/AIDs. She etched out a space for women in music to speak their minds and hash out their frustrations. With her shaved head, she rejected femininity’s conventions and became a huge part of rock. About five years ago, she converted to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat, claiming that it felt right after her complicated history with the Catholic Church.

In 2022, Sinéad made headlines when her son, Shane, committed suicide at the age of 17, she tweeted that he was  “The light of my life. The lamp of my soul.” and only eighteen months later, she lost her own life. She is survived by her three children and grandson.

As tragic as this colossal loss is, let it prove to be a time to reflect on the incredible legacy she leaves behind. 

Sienna Norris


Image: Google Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons

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