Singer Sinéad O'Connor
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Sinéad O'Connor, an acclaimed Irish singer known for championing a range of social causes, died Wednesday. She was 56.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad," O'Connor's family said in a statement to The Irish Times. "Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time." A cause of death was not announced.

A native of Dublin, O'Connor released her debut studio album, "The Lion and the Cobra," in 1987. However, it was not until her second studio album, 1990's "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," that she achieved international success. Her rendition of Prince's song "Nothing Compares 2 U," which was included on that album, topped the charts in multiple countries. The song also catapulted O'Connor to superstardom in her own country and "remained atop the charts in Ireland for 11 weeks," Variety reported.

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O'Connor released eight more albums throughout her career, with her latest, "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss," being released in 2014. She was nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning for Best Alternative Music Performance in 1991.

However, it was O'Connor's outspoken activism that endeared her to fans. One of her main targets was alleged sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and in 1992, she infamously tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II while performing on "Saturday Night Live." Decades later, O'Connor told The New York Times, "I'm not sorry I did it. It was brilliant."

O'Connor also spoke candidly about her battles with mental health. She told Dr. Phil in 2017 that she was "fed up of being defined as the crazy person" and wanted to help destigmatize mental illness. O'Connor's death comes a year and a half after the death of her son, 17-year-old Shane O'Connor, by suicide.

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.