Irish Grinstead, a founding member of the platinum-selling R&B group 702, has died at 43.
Her death was confirmed by her older sister LeMisha Grinstead-Fields, also a member of 702, in a social media post.
“It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that my beautiful sister and friend has passed away. She has had a long battle and she is finally at peace,” LeMisha wrote on Instagram.
She added, “That girl was as bright as the stars! She was not only beautiful on the outside, but also within. Sharing the stage with her was a joy I will cherish for the rest of my life! We, the family ask for prayers and respect for our privacy as we grieve an outstanding loss to our family.”
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In late 2022, it was announced on 702’s official Instagram page that Irish would be stepping away from performing due to “serious medical issues.”
“We regret to inform you that at this time Irish Grinstead will be taking a medical leave of absence due to serious medical issues. It is our hope that she will have a healthy and speedy recovery in the months to come. We ask that at this very difficult time that you please respect our privacy and continue to pray for us as Meelah and Misha continue to navigate and represent 702 for upcoming performances in 2023,” the post read.
Irish’s untimely announcement comes 15 years after the passing of her twin sister, Orish, who was an original member of 702. Orish died at the age of 27 due to kidney failure.
Irish and its three other original members of the then-quartet 702 recorded a 1995 duet titled “This Lil’ Game We Play” with Subway.
Michael Bivins, a founding member of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe, who discovered both Subway and 702, released the duet on his label Biv 10.
In 1996, 702, a trio, released their debut album No Doubt. “Steelo,” the group’s official first single, hit No. 12 on the Hot Black Singles chart and No. 32 on the Hot 100.
“Get it Together” did even better, peaking at No. 3 on the Hot Black Singles chart and No. 10 on the Hot 100.
“Steelo” was later repurposed for the iconic theme song of Nickelodeon’s Cousin Skeeter.
No Doubt went gold for selling more than 500,000 copies a year later. Additionally, the album made 702 the first all-female R&B group to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, six years after its formation.
702’s 1999 self-titled album (platinum selling with over one million units sold) was their most successful, thanks to “Where My Girls At?”
Co-written and co-produced by Missy Elliott, the empowering anthem peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other singles from the album include “Gotta Leave.”
Following the success of the album, the group took a four-year hiatus before their third and final studio album, Star. The album celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year.
In 2021, Irish appeared as a cast member of BET Presents: The Encore. Two years before this, Irish joined LeMisha and Kameelah to perform a tribute to Xscape at the 2019 Black Music Honors.
Revisit the performance below.