Annie Lennox Honors Sinead O’Connor at Grammys

In an emotional ode to Sinead O’Connor at the Grammys, Annie Lennox performed “Nothing Compares 2 U,” the Irish singer-songwriter’s cover of the Prince original that became a No. 1 hit.

A forceful performer known for her lilting voice and her political provocations, O’Connor died in July at 56. Her rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” her best-known track, highlighted her ability to veer from breathy high notes to penetrating, heavy vocals, delivering performances with an emotional gut punch.

There was a bit of irony in Lennox’s performance: In 1991, the year that O’Connor won the Grammy for best alternative music performance — for the album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,” which featured “Nothing Compares 2 U” — she boycotted the ceremony over what she called the show’s excessive commercialism.

In a fitting tribute, Lennox took a moment at the end of her performance for an antiwar statement, saying, “Artists for cease-fire,” in reference to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

O’Connor had a tendency of turning public performances into headlines, famously ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II on “S.N.L.” in protest of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. As Amanda Hess wrote in a 2021 profile of O’Connor, the act was more personal than it may have seemed. Her mother, who the singer said in her memoir had physically abused her, died when O’Connor was 18. It was her mother’s photo, plucked from a bedroom wall, that O’Connor destroyed on national television.

“I’m not sorry I did it. It was brilliant,” she said. “But it was very traumatizing.” Her career never recovered, but she felt a sense of freedom. “I could just be me,” she wrote in her book, “Rememberings.” “I’m not a pop star. I’m just a troubled soul who needs to scream into mikes now and then.”

In the days and months following O’Connor’s death, which a coroner later said was the result of natural causes, scores of artists spoke of her bravery and pure talent.

Lennox, a Scottish singer-songwriter who started her own solo career around the time of O’Connor’s rise, posted to social media a moving tribute to the singer after she died, calling her raw, fierce and brilliant.

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