Irish Grinstead, a member of the ’90s girl group 702, has passed away at the age of 43. Her sister, Lemisha Grinstead, made the announcement on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Lemisha posted the heartfelt caption on Instagram, “It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that my beautiful sister and friend has passed away this evening.”
“She has had a long battle and she is finally at peace. That girl was as bright as the stars! She was not only beautiful on the outside, but also within,” Lemisha wrote. “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.”
Fellow group member Kameelah Williams penned her own touching tribute on Instagram, noting how “devastated” and “heartbroken” she is.
“I struggled with this post because to me this isn’t real. There’s a lot I want to say, but there’s no way to say what your heart hasn’t fully accepted. It’s hard to acknowledge this is even happening,” she wrote.
“I know you’re feeling better now and hugging your twin Orish which makes me smile cus I know how much you missed her. You & I have known each other since we were kids and we’ve laughed, cried, celebrated, and everything in between which is why I just don’t want to believe this. You’ll always be my “IBG” & I still love you my forever lil sis!!! Rest easy.”
No cause of death has been provided yet.
In 1995, music mogul Mike Bivins introduced fans to the original four members of the group on a cut called, “This Lil’ Game We Play.” The song was a duet with his other group, Subway.
The group’s debut album “No Doubt” dropped in 1996. It featured the single “Steelo,” which was used as the theme song for Nickelodeon’s “Cousin Skeeter” and went gold, selling more than 500,000 copies in one year. The album also won the Best R&B/Soul Album of the Year by a Group, Band, or Duo at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards for that year.
Their second album, “702,” was released three years later and included the hit “Where My Girls At,” and went platinum, according to RatedRnB.
Over the group’s career, the three women earned nominations for one American Music Award, one BET Award, and five Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards.
The group went on a hiatus in 2006, according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, the two sisters went on to appear in the 2021 reality series, “BET Presents: The Encore,” where they all lived in a house with other women from girl groups (The Cheetah Girls, Danity Kane, 3LW, Blaque) to form a supergroup and album in 30 days.
In December 2022 the group announced that Irish was taking a “medical leave of absence due to serious medical issues,” and that they hoped she would “have a healthy and speedy recovery.”
Fans noticed Irish was missing from the Club Quarantine Live with D-Nice at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, July 12.
Her transition came as a surprise to many of her celebrity friends, who took to social media to send their condolences to Lemisha and her family.
One of the group’s main producers, Missy Elliott, wrote, “Multitude of Prayers for your family.”
Rapper Da Brat also wrote, “I’m so sorry. Here if yawl need ANYTHING.”
Tamar Braxton posted nine broken heart emojis and wrote, “Sister I’m so sorry.”
Irish May your beautiful soul Rest Peacefully in the arms of the Lord🕊️ A Multitude of prayers for the entire Grinstead family🙏🏾🕊️💔#702 pic.twitter.com/Vfqbwfzxqj— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) September 17, 2023
SWV, as a group, wrote, “So sorry for your loss. May she RIP,” with Coco separately posting a heart and prayer hands and Taj writing that she was sorry also.
Irish’s death comes 15 years after her twin Orish’s passing in 2008. She too was a member of 702 as a founding member, and her death was due to kidney failure.
Irish spoke on her sister’s passing on the Encore reality show. While opening up about it, she said, “It was hard for me to hold that in for so long, and it was kind of relieving to be able to speak about it and to finally let it out my heart.”