The Missed Destinations Of Lauryn Hill
Two weeks before the tour was to start, Nick Hobbs of Istanbul-based Charmenko, who booked her for Greece’s Ejekt Festival (June 19), and new Stockholm Jazz Festival chief Gunnar Lagerman –who’d booked her for the Swedish capital July 9 – gave up on the idea of her turning up.
Lagerman has replaced her with Estelle, the Grammy-award winning British R&B singer-songwriter, rapper, and producer who has also has received a MOBO award for best newcomer.
When Hobbs and Lagerman were trying to finalise the details for her visit, they told Pollstar that they gathered that Keith Naisbitt from The Agency Group’s Los Angeles office – who booked the tour – was having trouble contacting the artist.
Hill has had a succession of European agents and has developed a reputation for being difficult, often turning up hours after she was due on stage and then performing unrecognisable versions of her hits.
A couple of U.S. entertainment magazines that had already reported her disappearance said she turned up and suddenly tour dates were being announced – although she went back under cover before the whole itinerary was known. She was also due to play Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival.
Hill’s recent past has been dogged by controversy. In 2003, she performed at a Christmas benefit concert at the Vatican and offended many in attendance by using her platform to criticise the molestation of boys by Catholic priests in the U.S.
Her speech was removed from the television broadcast and no full transcript has been released.
The following year, The Fugees began reunion tours, although they ground to a halt with bandmate Prakazrel Michel (Pras) claiming Hill had “some things she needs to deal with.” Former Fugee bandmate Wyclef Jean once said she needs psychiatric help. She was booed off the stage in London during her last visit to Europe in 2007.
There were unconfirmed reports she once said she would “rather have [her] children starve than have white people buy [her] records,” although she later denied saying it.
At press time, Naisbitt wasn’t available to clarify what went wrong with Hill’s tour.
Ejekt, which has had its own troubles in the past and ended in a riot in 2007, attracted 7,000 fans per day June 18-19 – a little down on last year’s numbers.
The acts who did make it to the Helicon Olympic Fencing Centre just outside Athens included The Pixies, Royksopp, White Lies, Jarvis Cocker, Editors, Starsailor, Subways and Klaxons.