Annie Lennox Concludes Sinéad O’Connor Grammys Tribute With Call for Gaza Ceasefire

In perhaps the most fitting way to honor O'Connor's legacy, Lennox called for a Gaza ceasefire during her tribute performance of "Nothing Compares 2 U.”

Annie Lennox Concludes Sinéad O’Connor Grammys Tribute With Call for Gaza Ceasefire
Photo:YouTube, Recording Academy Twitter

From Fantasia Barrino’s rousing homage to Tina Turner to Jon Batiste’s tribute to Clarence Avant, the “Godfather of Black Music,” it’s safe to say the In Memorium portion of the Grammy Awards was one of the more moving moments of the evening. But it was during Annie Lennox’s salute to the life and legacy of Sinéad O’Connor, however, that a needful message—one that has yet to be uttered on stage by a single celebrity this award show season—was delivered.

“Artists for ceasefire, peace in the world,” Lennox declared after performing a rendition of O’Connor’s most famous ballad, “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

The Eurythmics icon and Scottish pop singer-songwriter is one of several signees of Artists4Ceasefire, an organization led by actors, singers, and other industry members urging for “an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel before another life is lost.” In a letter the organization addressed to President Joe Biden, hundreds of celebrities underscore the urgent need for humanitarian aid for Gaza’s two million residents—half of them children.

During her 56 years of life, O’Connor was the exceedingly rare musician of mainstream notoriety who took firm social stances and never relented. She was critical of the Catholic institution, loudly supported abortion rights, and often used her platform to destigmatize HIV/AIDS. O’Connor was also an outspoken supporter of Palestine.

Among the artists who’ve signed the letter to Biden are Caroline Polachek, Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Dua Lipa, Florence Pugh, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, MUNA, and several others. On the Grammy red carpet, boygenius—Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus—also donned Artists4Ceasefire pins, and Esperanza Spaulding wore a keffiyeh.

“We urge your administration, Congress, and all world leaders, to honor all of the lives in the Holy Land and call for and facilitate a ceasefire without delay–an end to the bombing of Gaza, and the safe release of hostages,” the letter continues.

Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, also addressed the crisis but only in a platitude-laden speech that specifically mentioned Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on a music festival in Israel. Music, Mason Jr. told the audience, is “one of humanity’s greatest connectors.”

“Take the string quartet: As individuals, they sound really good, but together they achieve something beautiful,” he said. “These musicians of Palestinian, Israeli and Arab descent are here playing together. Now’s the time for us, for humanity, to play together—to come together with empathy and with love.”

In 1997, O’Connor canceled a performance in Israel—which was meant to close out a four-day festival sponsored by an Israeli and Palestinian women’s peace group—after Itamar Ben-Gvir (who is currently the country’s far-right national security minister), and a Jewish supremacist group known as the Ideological Front, threatened to kill her. “Nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight,” the singer said at the time.

That Lennox concluded O’Connor’s tribute by calling attention to that plight on a stage for thousands to see is perhaps the most appropriate way to remember a once-in-a-lifetime artist and activist.

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