• Hill attended dress rehearsal the morning of the show.
• "It's a disappointment to us and a disappointment to her," said Recording Academy president Neil Portnow.
Lauryn Hill was reportedly set to give a surprise performance with The Weeknd during Monday night's Grammy Awards, but much to the disappointment of Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, the Fugees singer was a no-show.
According to Portnow, everyone was ready for Hill to sing right up until the performance actually happened. But when The Weeknd took the stage at the Staples Center, he appeared solo.
Since the duet was meant to be a surprise, most people watching the telecast likely didn't realize something was missing from the soulful performance. (He still nailed it.) But as Rolling Stone notes, "Hill's absence not only surprised in-the-know viewers, but the Grammys themselves were caught off guard."
"It’s a disappointment to us and a disappointment to her," Portnow told USA Today of Hill's absence. "Our intention was, and we were ready, right up to the moment of the performance, for her to step up on stage."
Portnow also added that Hill was at dress rehearsal on Monday morning. A sneaky photo purportedly of Hill and the Canadian R&B crooner rehearsing together surfaced online the same day, seemingly supporting Portnow's claims. (However, it should be noted that Hill's face is not visible in the pic, so the figure in question could be anyone.)
"She was there for it, completed it and left the building," Portnow told USA Today. "And then she did not get back in time to make the show. I’m sorry, that’s the bottom line. That’s the truth. That’s unfortunate. I guess those things happen."
A Grammys spokesperson backed up Portnow's comments, telling TV Line that Hill "showed up during rehearsals, but arrived too late for the performance."
When Hill's camp caught wind of Portnow's comments, they issued a statement of their own to Billboard.
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 LA in time to rehearse for the event. 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.
Portnow refuted the statement, saying, "None of that statement is accurate."
We'll probably never know the full story. We do know that, amid the behind-the-scenes drama, The Weeknd -- who has yet to comment on the whole situation -- managed to do just fine without Hill.
We have reached out to The Weeknd's rep for comment and will update this post accordingly.
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