DUBLIN: Irish singer Sinead O'Connor, known for topping the charts around the world with the 1990 song "Nothing Compares 2 U", has died at the age of 56, Irish national broadcaster RTE quoted her family as saying on Wednesday.
"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time," RTE quoted a statement from the singer's family as saying.
Brash and outspoken - her shaved head, pained expression, and shapeless wardrobe a direct challenge to popular culture's long-prevailing notions of femininity O'Connor changed the image of women in music in the early 1990s.
She crashed onto the global music scene at the beginning of the decade with her mesmerizing version of the song originally written by Prince, facing directly into the camera for the music video that has subsequently been viewed almost 400 million times on YouTube.
O'Connor converted to Islam in 2018 and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat, though continued to perform under the name Sinead O'Connor.
Reactions to the death of singer Sinead O'Connor
PRESIDENT MICHAEL D. HIGGINS
"One couldn't but always be struck by the depth of her fearless commitment to the important issues which she brought to public attention, no matter how uncomfortable those truths may have been.
"What Ireland has lost at such a relatively young age is one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades, one who had a unique talent and extraordinary connection with her audience, all of whom held such love and warmth for her. May her spirit find the peace she sought in so many different ways."
IRISH PRIME MINISTER LEO VARADKAR
"Really sorry to hear of the passing of Sinead O'Connor. Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare. Condolences to her family, her friends and all who loved her music."
MUSICIAN MICHAEL STIPE
"There are no words."
MUSICIAN BILLY CORGAN
"Fiercely honest and sweet and funny, she was talented in ways I'm not sure she completely understood. But Sinead stands alone as a figure from our generation who was always true to the piercing voice within and without."
MUSICIAN TORI AMOS
"Sinead was a force of nature. A brilliant songwriter and performer whose talent we will not see the like of again. Such passion, such intense presence and a beautiful soul, who battled her own personal demons courageously. Be at peace dear Sinead, you will forever be in our hearts."
SINGER SHANE MACGOWAN AND HIS WIFE VICTORIA MARY CLARKE
"We don't really have words for this but we want to thank you Sinead for your love and your friendship and your compassion and your humour and your incredible music. We pray that you are at peace now with your beautiful boy."
MUSICIAN YUSUF ISLAM, FORMERLY CAT STEVENS
"Sad to hear of the passing of sister Shuhada Sadaqat, also known as Sinead O'Connor. She was a tender soul, may God, Most Merciful, grant her everlasting peace."
BRITISH BAND MASSIVE ATTACK
"Devastated. Honestly, to bear witness to her voice, intimacy in the studio. On the road every single person stopped - dropped their tools during soundtrack. The fire in her eyes made you understand that her activism was a soulful reflex and not a political gesture."
MUSICIAN TIM BURGESS
"Sinead was the true embodiment of a punk spirit. She did not compromise and that made her life more of a struggle. Hoping that she has found peace."
AMERICAN RAPPER ICE T
"Respect to Sinead. She stood for something... Unlike most people. Rest Easy."
ACTRESS JAMIE LEE CURTIS
"I once heard Sinead sing acappella in an empty chapel in Ireland. It was under construction at the private home of our host. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard in my life. We then went together to see Eminem at a festival. I loved her. Her music. Her life.
"She was a victim of child abuse and a huge change agent for unfair and unjust draconian laws that she helped change in Ireland. She was a warrior. She was a rebel. She ripped up a photograph that was on her mother's wall because of the hypocrisy of the abusive life she was raised in under the banner of the church. Rest well. Rest in power. Rest in peace."
IRISH-AMERICAN DANCER MICHAEL FLATLEY
"Dear Sinead, I pray your troubled soul is at peace. May you sing now with the angels in heaven. God rest your soul."
FORMER UFC CHAMPION CONOR MCGREGOR
"The world has lost an artist with the voice of an angel. Ireland has lost an iconic voice and one of our absolute finest, by a long shot. And I have lost a friend. Sinead's music will live on and continue to inspire! Rest In Peace, Sinead you are home with your son I am sure."
O'Connor's best-known hit by far was "Nothing Compares 2 U," a track Prince wrote and the Irish singer turned into a power ballad evoking the painful emptiness experienced by a jilted lover.
The melancholy 1990 smash soared to the top of the charts worldwide, reigning over the US top songs list for four weeks.
It was also royalty on MTV, where O'Connor's stark music video received heavy rotation. Frames of her tightly shot facial features and tears became one of the emblematic images of 1990s music.
The critically acclaimed track is a regular on best all-time song lists.
"You have to look pretty hard to find a better expression in pop music of the void that exists when a relationship ends," Pitchfork wrote in 2009.
- 'Mandinka' -
O'Connor's "Mandinka" was released as the second single from her debut album, "The Lion and the Cobra," in 1987.
It became a runaway hit on college radio stations and the Irish singer performed it on the US program "Late Night with David Letterman," her debut television appearance stateside.
But it was her Grammy performance of "Mandinka" in February 1989 that introduced her more broadly to an American audience, when she sauntered onstage in a black halter crop top, baggy, low-slung jeans and Doc Martens, a baby's onesie tied at the back of her waist.
The infant clothing belonged to her son, and her sporting of it was aimed at record label execs who told her motherhood would end her career.
O'Connor also painted a man in a crosshairs on her shaved head - the logo of rap phenom Public Enemy.
The symbol referenced Recording Academy executives finally including a category honoring hip-hop - but then choosing not to televise it, which prompted a boycott by several nominees.
- 'The Emperor's New Clothes' -
"The Emperor's New Clothes," was off O'Connor's second album, and became her second-highest charting song on Billboard.
- 'You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart' -
"You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart" does not appear on any of O'Connor's studio albums but was lauded by critics after it was released on the soundtrack to the 1993 film "In the Name of the Father," which starred Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson.
A review from The Guardian called it O'Connor "at her most stunning."
"Her well-publicized antics have distracted attention from the fact that she can sing, and beautifully," the paper wrote. "Here, she puts her angst to good use on a tense, Celtic-fiddle-accented piece of pop."
"It's her best track since 'Nothing Compares 2 U,'" it added.
- 'Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home' -
O'Connor's 1992 cover of country icon Loretta Lynn's "Success" was the lead single of her third album, "Am I Not Your Girl?"
"Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home" became her third-biggest hit, and she called it her "most personal" track on the album.
The song's lyrics point to the costs of material success, and how fame can damage familial and romantic relationships.