Singer Lauren Hill (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Grammy organizers were expecting Lauren Hill to make a surprise appearance during The Weeknd’s performance Monday night, but the singer was a no-show.
Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said Hill showed up for a dress rehearsal Monday morning but left and didn’t come back.
“We were ready up until the moment of the downbeat of that performance for her to step on the stage,” Portnow said, addressing one of several unexpected moments during Monday’s telecast.
Sound issues hampered Adele’s performance and a health issue forced Rihanna to cancel her planned performance.
Portnow said Hill was invited by The Weeknd to join him on his song “In the Night.” She was supposed to come onstage during the second verse.
“It was intended to be a surprise,” Portnow said.
His comments dispute a statement by Hill’s representative that said her performance was announced prematurely by the Grammys and “without approval.” The Academy didn’t announce Hill would perform, but the plan leaked on Instagram.
“None of that statement is accurate,” Portnow said. “We did not announce her. She made the dress rehearsal and did not show up for the actual performance.”
Hill’s rep says the singer had concerts all weekend, which left her no time to prepare for the Grammys.
The 40-year-old singer won five Grammys in 1999, including album of the year and best new artist, for her lone solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” She was the first woman to win five Grammys in a single year.
She has had a sporadic and erratic career since her Grammys wins. Last year, the former member of The Fugees canceled a show in Israel after she was unable to schedule a performance in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
She pleaded guilty in 2012 to tax evasion for failure to pay federal income tax and the following year served a three-month prison sentence.
Rihanna also had to cancel her planned performance at Monday’s show on doctor’s orders that she might damage her vocal cords if she sang after she had been ill in recent days.