Long before Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande, Drake, and Childish Gambino’s refusal to perform at the Grammys, and ahead of Jay-Z and Kanye’s skipping of the ceremonies (despite collecting multiple awards), Sinead O’Connor, whose 53rd birthday is this week, became the first musical artist to say “no” to The Recording Academy.
Back in 1991 the Irish musician was nominated for four awards for the 33rd annual Grammy Awards. She released her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, in March of 1990, and the work quickly garnered critical acclaim. It was mystical, punk, orchestral folk rock—a rumination on disillusionment, forgiveness, love lost, and the hypocrisies of modern life. She sang about leaving inauthentic people behind and the ends of her own relationships; she also brought up Margaret Thatcher and the police murder of young black men in the UK. Her work was unvarnished, lyrically raw, and direct.
When the album was nominated for several Grammys in February 1991, O’Connor shocked the industry. Not only did the artist bail on attending the celebrated event, she also refused to accept any awards if she won (which she did for Best Alternative Music Performance). This was a first.
“As artists, I believe our function is to express the feelings of the human race—to always speak the truth and never keep it hidden even though we are operating in a world which does not like the sound of the truth,” wrote O’Connor to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. She went on to assert that the awards were essentially commercial and not artistic in nature, and that event itself was a tool and symbol of the commercially-driven industry, one that derides the very qualities it claims to uplift and is failing to produce and support meaningful work. “We are allowing ourselves to be portrayed as being in some way more important, more special than the very people we are supposed to be helping—by the way we dress, by the cars we travel in, by the ‘otherworldliness’ of our shows and by a lot of what we say in our music,” she said. “How can we sit there hoping to win a Grammy when we have failed in our duty as artists to speak the truth?.”
While she was certainly young and now suggests her protests may have been a bit foolish, there is something to be said of her willingness to criticize the system itself and stand behind her beliefs. But of course, O’Connor stood out back then in more ways than one, and she continues to be a rare voice today. She (in)famously shaved her head when record execs told her to wear more miniskirts. She tore up a photo of the Pope live on Saturday Night Live. She garnered the criticism of Madonna. (Or as one top newspaper called it: Professional jealously. “After Madonna had gowned, harnessed, strapped down, and fully stripped to promote her album Erotica and her book Sex, O’Connor stole the spotlight with one photograph of a fully-clothed man.”) She caught the attention of a livid Frank Sinatra, who threatened to “kick her ass” because she refused to sing after the National Anthem played. She’s talked openly about mental health and sexuality throughout the years. Making mistakes but never giving up on engaging. At 53 this week, O’Connor is still releasing music and speaking her mind. She has never lacked balls, and she’s never gotten boring.END
prev link: https://www.crfashionbook.com/celebrity/a30124959/sinead-oconnor-refused-grammy-birthday/
createdAt:Wed, 04 Dec 2019 22:10:15 +0000