PERFORMING ARTS

Why Sinéad O’Connor Matters

Univ. of Texas May 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781477325704. $24.95. MUSIC
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Music and culture writer McCabe defends the controversial career and lifelong activism of Irish singer/songwriter Sinéad O’Connor in this very personal and thought-provoking account of the media’s role in her stratospheric rise and ultimate implosion. McCabe’s own story parallels O’Connor’s—she too suffered childhood abuse and struggled with her sexual identity. She turned to music as therapy and eventually discovered the prolific catalog of O’Connor through Fiona Apple’s hero-worshipping video. McCabe marvels at O’Connor’s ability to take control of her career by creating her own image and rebelling against the sex-symbol ideal that others wanted from her. Her brilliance and downfall were both a result of her desire to be an activist artist when her actions and views were considered taboo and shocking at the time. The author argues that O’Connor was fundamentally correct about everything, from the Catholic Church’s role in covering up child abuse to the music industry’s blatant racism and misogyny.
VERDICT A touching tribute. O’Connor has been the subject of recent and numerous articles, a documentary, and books (including her own), but McCabe’s take is unique in its critical analysis of the media and its attempts to silence and cancel O’Connor.
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