In Memoriam: Sinéad O’Connor

Sinéad O’Connor
(December 8, 1966 – July 26, 2023)

Sineád O’Connor, who adopted the name Shuhada’ Sadaqat following her conversion to Islam in 2018, gained prominence in Ireland by the age of 20. Her breakthrough came with a poignant rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” originally composed and recorded by Prince for his side project The Family. The single achieved chart-topping success in over 20 countries, making it the global No. 1 hit of that year. Additionally, it remained atop the Billboard 200 for four consecutive weeks in 1990. The song received three Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year, while its minimalist video earned three MTV VMAs, including Video of the Year.
O’Connor performed on numerous TV shows including MTV Unplugged, the Grammy Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter and multiple times on the UK’s Top of the Pops.
(Pedersen, Erik. “Sinéad O’Connor Dies: ‘nothing Compares 2 U’ Singer Who Got Banned from ‘SNL’ Was 56.” Deadline, Deadline, 28 July 2023)

Sinéad O’Connor performing in Vancouver in 2020. Andrew Chin/Getty Images

With these TV appearances, she never feared to stand up for her opinion, which garnered her some controversy. She backed out of an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in protest of the misogyny she perceived in the comedy of Andrew Dice Clay, who was scheduled to host, and more notably, ended an a cappella performance of Bob Marley’s “War” by ripping a photo of Pope John Paul II into pieces as a stance against sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. (Sisario, Ben, and Joe Coscarelli. “Sinead O’Connor, Evocative and Outspoken Singer, Is Dead at 56.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 July 2023)

O’Connor performing in Vancouver, Canada in the late 1980s.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

O’Connor is featured in Nothing Compares, a documentary film that debuted at Sundance in 2022 before being broadcasted on Showtime. Directed by Kathryn Ferguson, the film explores O’Connor’s remarkable ascent to global fame and her subsequent departure from the pop mainstream. Centering on her impactful words and actions from 1987 to 1993, the documentary examines the enduring legacy of this courageous pioneer through a modern feminist perspective.

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