Lauryn Hill’s no-show at the Grammys: What happened, exactly?

Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill performs live for fans at Palais Theatre on May 21, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Graham Denholm/Getty Images

If you watched the 58th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony last Monday night, you probably knew that Rihanna was a no-show, but you might not realize that former Fugees singer Lauryn Hill was supposed to perform with The Weeknd and she, too, failed to appear.

There are now two conflicting reports on where Hill was, and why she didn’t show up. One comes from Hill’s representative via a statement, and the other comes from Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who spoke to reporters backstage after the show.

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The representative for the notoriously late Hill (who often shows up hours after planned concert start times) went on the defensive, saying that the singer wasn’t given enough notice.

“The Grammys announced a performance by Ms. Lauryn Hill prematurely and without approval. Ms. Hill had concerts all weekend, leaving no time to prepare, and was uncertain she would even be able to make it to L.A. in time to rehearse for the event,” the statement read.

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“Any performance that could have happened was never confirmed, and should not have been advertised as such. Ms. Hill was invited to do a collaboration with an artist she appreciates. The performance was intended to be a surprise and unfortunately due to its last-minute nature, was unable to come to fruition.”

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Portnow’s account differs.

“It’s a disappointment to us and a disappointment to her,” Portnow said. “We had rehearsals off-site that she didn’t attend, but we had a dress rehearsal onstage that she did attend. When it came to showtime, we were told she was late, three minutes to seven minutes out, but she didn’t make it.”

“None of [Hill’s representative’s] statement is accurate,” he added. “Our intention was, and we were ready, right up to the moment of the performance, for her to step up on stage. She didn’t get into the building on time. If I have to be someplace on time, I figure out how to do that.”

So it seems that there was definitely some miscommunication somewhere. Hill has had a sour public reputation since her 2002 Unplugged album, which divided critics and fans. This was only four years after the release of 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, an album that won her many awards and accolades.

According to The Los Angeles Times, her “uneven” live showings have gained her a reputation as a difficult and undependable artist. The Grammys debacle certainly hasn’t helped her case.

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