P!nk sings a tribute to Sinéad O’Connor with Brandi Carlile during the opening night of the US leg of her tour

P!nk and Sinéad O’Connor  (Getty / Evening Standard)
P!nk and Sinéad O’Connor (Getty / Evening Standard)

Just hours before P!nk took the stage in Cincinnati, Ohio, the news broke that Sinéad O’Connor had died.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time,” said O’Connor’s family in a statement.

Tributes immediately started flying in for the 56-year-old Irish singer: “Devastated. Love you, Sinead!” said Boy George. “She was our royalty,” said Laura Whitmore. “I hope that all the old adages about being ‘at peace’ when one dies can be true for Sinéad O’Connor,” said Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac.

Then it was P!nk’s turn. During the American singer’s first US performance of her ongoing Summer Carnival tour, she took a moment to reflect on the influence that O’Connor had had on her life.

“When I was a little girl, my mom grew up in Atlantic City and I used to go down to the Ocean City Boardwalk with my ten dollars and I would make a demo tape,” said P!nk.

“And it would always be either Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston or Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor. So in honour of Sinead, and in honor of my very, very talented friend Brandi Carlile I asked her if she would come out here and sing this song with me.”

Nine-time Grammy award winner Carlile joined the singer on stage, and the duo sang O’Connor’s most famous track, Nothing Compares 2 U. Fans who were present found the tribute incredibly moving. “Pink just paid tribute to Sinead O’Connor and it was so beautiful, it made me cry,” said one.

Nothing Compares 2 U was written by Prince in July 1984, but he gave the song to his other band, The Family, believing it wasn’t a good match for his image. The Family released their own version of Nothing Compares 2 U in 1985.

Several years later, O’Connor made a cover. The song was released as the second single from her 1990 studio album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, and catapulted her to international fame. Nothing Compares 2 U went to the number one spot in the charts around the world, including in Ireland, UK and America.

Its lyrics are unbelievably sad: “It’s been so lonely without you here / Like a bird without a song / Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling,” sings O’Connor.

“You never know what people are going through,” said P!nk after the tribute. “It’s not that hard to give people a smile… we’re all learning that lesson together now.”

P!nk will play in Boston on Monday. The 43-year-old singer will travel around America over the next couple of months, ending her tour in Orlando in November.