Last week, Carnegie Hall resonated with the spirit and songs of Sinéad O'Connor and Shane MacGowan as an expanded lineup of luminaries took to the stage for a historic tribute concert.

Amanda Palmer and Billy Bragg Perform at tribute to Sinead O'Connor and Shane MacGowan

This profound celebration, organized by City Winery, not only honored the indelible legacies of these iconic musicians but also supported the crucial mission of PEN America with a donation of $65,000 to help them in their mission of advocating for freedom of speech worldwide.

The event, Sinéad & Shane at Carnegie Hall, saw an unprecedented gathering of talent, with performances that spanned the emotional spectrum, from heart-wrenching ballads to uplifting anthems. The night was not just a tribute but a powerful reminder of O’Connor and MacGowan’s profound impact on music and cultural dialogue. The event opened with comments from Roisin Waters (O’Connor’s daughter), Victoria Mary Clarke (MacGowan’s widow), and Suzanne Nossel (CEO of PEN America), as well as bagpipe music from Joe McGonigal.

The addition of Waters, along with Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan, Steve Earle, Josh Ritter, and Flogging Molly to the lineup brought a new depth to the evening, joining forces with previously announced artists David Gray, Glen Hansard, Cat Power, Dropkick Murphys, Lisa Hannigan, Billy Bragg, Amanda Palmer, Gordon Gano, The Mountain Goats, Bettye Lavette, Eugene Hütz, Julia Cumming, Kat Edmonson, and the Resistance Revival Chorus. Irish singer-songwriter Pierce Turner delivered a stunning rendition of “The Voice of God,” a song traditionally performed by the beloved late singer Rita House. Throughout the evening, each performance, backed by the esteemed house band led by Tony Shanahan, was a testament to the artists’ unique contributions to the arts and their unyielding commitment to authenticity and expression.

The night was preceded by a special live rehearsal show, which saw the performers and many unannounced surprise guests take the stage for a truly magical experience — from the Resistance Revival Chorus delivering an opening rendition of “Thank You For Hearing Me,” Billy Bragg’s “If I Should Fall from Grace with God,” and Cat Power’s “Feel So Different” to Kat Edmonson’s deeply emotional “In This Heart,” Josh Ritter with “The Broad Majestic Shannon,” and Imelda May and Glen Hansard coming together for an intense performance of “Haunted.”

The tribute was born from a place of deep respect and personal loss, reflecting City Winery’s distinct connection to O’Connor and the shared grief over MacGowan’s passing. Inspired by Amanda Palmer and fueled by a passionate desire to celebrate these two monumental figures, the event underscored the enduring power of music to unite, inspire, and provoke thought.

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, personally contributed a beautiful letter for the evening that was included in the centerfold of the program.

As the final notes echoed through Carnegie Hall, it was clear that the evening was more than a concert; it was a gathering of hearts and voices, a collective homage to two artists who have left an indelible mark on the world. The success of the event, attended by fans and luminaries alike, reaffirmed the music community’s deep admiration for O’Connor and MacGowan and the belief in music’s transformative power.

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