Sinead O'Connor, seen here performing in Santiago, Chile, has died at the age of 56, her family said in a statement on 26 July 2023. EFE/Sebastian Silva/File

Irish singer Sinead O’Connor dead at 56

Dublin, Jul 26 (EFE).- Sinead O’Connor, an Irish recording artist known for her powerful voice and controversial political stances, has died, her family said Wednesday in a statement. She was 56.

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor performs at the Parkpop festival in The Hague, Netherlands, on 30 June 2013. EFE/EPA/Robbert Stroy

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead,” the statement read, without indicating the cause of death. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

The Dublin-born artist rose to international fame with her haunting and soul-baring version of the Prince song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which was one of the tracks on her 1990 second studio album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.”

She went on to enjoy a successful musical career, although her artistic output was often overshadowed by her political and religious provocations and spiritual search.

In 1992, she shocked a nationwide US television audience after performing a live a cappella version of Bob Marley’s song “War,” which she intended as a protest against sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.

While finishing the performance on the late-night program “Saturday Night Live” by singing the word “evil,” she held up a photo of then-Pope John Paul II, ripped it to pieces and said, “fight the real enemy.”

That performance came nine years before that same pontiff apologized to victims of sexual abuse by priests and other clergy.

In 1999, O’Connor was ordained as a member of the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

She had previously said that had she not been a singer she would have liked to have been a priest in the Catholic Church, which does not permit the ordination of women.

However, in 2018 she rejected Christianity, converted to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada’ Sadaqat.

As a singer, O’Connor released 10 studio albums between 1987 and 2014 while always maintaining her facet as a activist.

The artist spoke out on issues related to racism, women’s rights and child abuse, which she said she had suffered at the hands of her mother.

Mental health problems also were a constant reality for O’Connor, a mother of four children, one of whom, Shane, committed suicide in 2022 at age 17 after going missing for several days.

In the wake of his death, she wrote on social media that her son had “decided to end his earthly struggle today … may no one follow his example.”

On Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he deeply regretted the death of O’Connor, calling her an artist whose “talent was unmatched and beyond compare.”

“Condolences to her family, her friends and all who loved her music.” EFE