Georgians remember Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor, who frequented Atlanta at the height of her fame
Singer Sinéad O'Connor has died at 56.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad," her family said in a statement reported Wednesday by the BBC and RTE. "Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time." No cause was disclosed.
O'Connor was public about her mental illness, the Associated Press reported. She posted a Facebook video in 2017 from a New Jersey motel where she had been living, saying that she was staying alive for the sake of others and that if it were up to her, she’d be “gone.”
She changed her name twice in recent years, most recently to Shuhada' Sadaqat in 2018 after converting to Islam.
When her teenage son Shane died by suicide in Ireland last year, O’Connor tweeted there was “no point living without him” and she was soon hospitalized.
A 2022 documentary directed by Kathryn Ferguson titled Nothing Compares followed O'Connor's life from her tough childhood through career and personal struggles until present day.
Rolling Stone's David Browne wrote of the doc: "Nothing Compares examines how the Irish musician paved the way for so many women's rights issues — and was completely run over in the process." He added, "An entire generation has grown up with little or no idea who O’Connor is, why she (and her shaved head and proudly upfront politics) mattered, and what molds she broke, musically and culturally."
O'Connor was known for her intense spirituality, an angelic voice that could flip into an angry howl and her powerful stage performances (including the controversial 1992 Saturday Night Live appearance in which she ripped up a photo of the pope).
Her most popular recordings were the 1987 album The Lion and the Cobra and 1990's I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which contained her No. 1 cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U." But her rich catalog covered a wide variety of styles from dance rock to folk, a cappella and chanting. She also played guitar and keyboards, and handled programming and arrangements on many of her albums.
Her most recent full-length recording, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss was released in 2014.
In 2021, she posted a haunting version of the traditional “Trouble of the World” in the style of Mahalia Jackson, with proceeds going to Black Lives Matter. And the timeless recording of her 1990 rendering of "Silent Night" made the rounds on social media last Christmas.
Like other musicians who rose to fame during the MTV era, Sinéad O'Connor was friendly with Georgia acts such as R.E.M. and Indigo Girls. She performed in Atlanta several times over the years, including shows at the Fox Theatre, Chastain Park Amphitheatre and Lakewood Amphitheater.
She performed on the 1998 Lilith Fair tour on a bill that included Indigo Girls and India Arie and in 1999 with Doria Roberts. She spent time in Atlanta at the height of her fame in the 1990s, and owned a home on Northside Drive.
Her 2003 album, She Who Dwells in the Secret Place of the Most High Shall Abide Under the Shadow of the Almighty, included a cover version of the B-52's "Ain't It a Shame."
In October 2003, The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that the home owned by O'Connor had been sold for $654,000 in a charitable gift transaction through the Community Foundation and law firm Kilpatrick Stockton, the proceeds of which were sent to Ireland's Aljeff Treatment Centre for alcohol and drug abuse and suicide prevention.
She had been scheduled to perform at Atlanta's City Winery in March 2020, a show that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the news of her death was announced this afternoon, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe posted a picture on Instagram of the pair of them together with the caption, "There are no words." R.E.M. posted a 1996 video of Stipe performing O'Connor's song, "The Last Day of Our Acquaintance."
Indigo Girls posted a photo with O'Connor and drummer John Reynolds on their Instagram account, writing, "Sinead was pure of heart, a pioneer of spirit, and someone who challenged all of us to think about ours and others' humanity. We will never forget her band's legendary and transformative shows at Lilith Fair. We ended up sharing music with many of them and to this day count her and her band as the catalyst that shook us to our core, stretched our boundaries, and eventually became a musical compass for us."
Amy Ray typed, "Stay golden, Sinead, you are with the angels now. - xo Amy. John Reynolds, we love you dearly."
Emily Saliers wrote, "It's hard to believe you are gone, and those you leave behind here are grieving. I pray you have found your peace. You were always a beautiful soul - fierce, honest, loving, and incredibly gifted. Thank you for always being you and for inspiring us."
India Arie posted a series of quotes by Sinéad O'Connor on her Instagram story, along with a photo of the singer smiling and a dove emoji.
"At some point, the entire population of the earth is gonna have to look back at the kind of essence of spirituality, which is basically caring about each other," one of the quotes attributed to O'Connor said.
Doria Roberts posted a photo of herself onstage with O' Connor at Lilith Fair in 1999. She wrote, "She was as lovely and warm and fierce as I was wide eyed and terrified that weekend when I met her. She lived loudly in the face of her pain. She fought the good fight. And won. She slays demons no more. She now sings with the angels who bore her otherworldliness into our unworthy Earthly realm. Pivotal and heart rending this…We love you, Sinead. Deeply. Madly. Still. And Always. RIP Dear One… 🖤"
This is a developing story.