today I want to remember and honor activist musician feminist and abuse survivor sinead oconnor who died too soon at 56 on July 26th of this year. Like many others I hadn’t appreciated the depth of Sinead conners commitment to activism, LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, the fight against sexual abuse and support of Palestinian rights and her fight against racism and the colonization of Ireland which she saw has having many parallels with the colonization of africans. And sadly it is too often only after these truth tellers die that we finally appreciate them
So I want to remember sinead oconnor with Allyson McCabe who had just published a book about sinead oconnor a couple of months before she died. McCabe’s book Why Sinead Oconnor Matters is a really fitting tribute to the importance of such a valiant truth teller who was to me cut down by sexism and the mainstream forces of the music industry.
In 1990, Sinéad O’Connor’s video for “Nothing Compares 2 U” turned her into a superstar. Two years later, an appearance on Saturday Night Live turned her into a scandal. For many people—including, for years, the author—what they knew of O’Connor stopped there. Allyson McCabe believes it’s time to reassess our old judgments about Sinéad O’Connor and to expose the machinery that built her up and knocked her down.
Addressing triumph and struggle, sound and story, Why Sinéad O’Connor Matters argues that its subject has been repeatedly manipulated and misunderstood by a culture that is often hostile to women who speak their minds (in O’Connor’s case, by shaving her head, championing rappers, and tearing up a picture of the pope on live television). McCabe details O’Connor’s childhood abuse, her initial success, and the backlash against her radical politics without shying away from the difficult issues her career raises. She compares O’Connor to Madonna, another superstar who challenged the Catholic Church, and Prince, who wrote her biggest hit and allegedly assaulted her. A journalist herself, McCabe exposes how the media distorts not only how we see O’Connor but how we see ourselves, and she weighs the risks of telling a story that hits close to home.