Why You Shouldn't Care If Lauryn Hill Is Two Hours Late to Her Phoenix Performance

Googling a legendary recording artist and performer — one who made the cover of TIME magazine at 22 and won a Grammy soon after, you’d expect to see some positives and some negatives. Celebrity, after all, is as much about being adored and exalted as it is being shamed and dissected.

Ms. Lauryn Hill is, undoubtedly, known both for her artistic hip-hop masterwork The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and her three-month stint in jail for tax evasion (some people get elected president for that shit, but whatever). However, it seems the one point that overshadows all elements of Ms. Hill’s tenuous time in the spotlight is the fact that she can be a little late to her concerts — sometimes as much as two hours.

Now I know your time is precious. I know you didn’t spend a whole day binge watching Westworld. I know you didn’t take half an hour to craft your election reaction on Facebook Wednesday morning. I also know it sucks to wait. It’s terrible. You can order a bowl of ramen to be delivered at your door in 30 minutes on UberEats and buffering on a cat video was the most irksome thing that happened to you at work the other day. Believe me, I get it.

Now that you know I truly get where you’re coming from, I don’t feel it necessary to sugarcoat what I’m about to say, so here it is: Please stop your fucking whining about Ms. Hill being late to her performances.

Lauryn Hill is a living legend. She’s a living legend who had the wherewithal to step out of the spotlight when the demands of being under constant public scrutiny threatened both her artistic endeavors and her personal sanity. She went on a damn long hiatus and raised her six kids. 
Let’s put that into perspective: It’s 2007 and Britney Spears is having a meltdown. She’s shaving her head, throwing an umbrella or two, and we’re all watching, mouths agape and ready to poke fun at someone else’s trauma. Yeah, you remember. There’s still a pile of memes to snicker at using the infamous image — a woman panicked trying to shave her hair off so the follicles can’t test positive for drugs in order to keep her kids, if the rumors are to believed. And, hey, maybe we all just wanted to see the pedestal crumble, even though we were the ones who put her there.

I’m not going to sit here and bemoan paparazzi treatment of celebrities (despite how obsessive, absurd, and obtrusive it is), but instead offer respect to someone who just bowed out when it became too much.

I don’t know why Ms. Lauryn Hill is often hours late to a show. I don’t care. If it means she can deliver the best concert that she can possibly muster, I will wait all night. If me waiting means she can stay healthy mentally on this tour and feel good about what she’s putting out to the public, so be it. Artists should have control over the product they put out, and sometimes art just doesn’t happen right on time.

It’s been a good year for touring legends gracing the Valley with their goods. Brian Wilson played Pet Sounds at Celebrity Theatre, Black Sabbath's (alleged) last tour ever stopped at Ak-Chin Pavilion, and the list goes on. I have a hard time believing if Ozzy or Brian took their time to get on stage, there’d be this much of an uproar — that it’d nearly overshadow their accomplishments as musicians.

“Well, yeah, but actually they weren’t late,” you say to me, one finger pointed in the air with a smug look on your face.

“Shut up,” I say to you, both sternly and lovingly, “I don’t care.”

"I paid good money," you say.

"Then get your money's worth and have a transcendent friggin' experience. This isn't going to happen every day, and she's a human, not a train in Germany."

I remember sitting in the back of my older sister’s Subaru sedan, cutting across the rural roads of Illinois as a wee lass and listening to Miseducation — a near-perfect album. I’ve been listening to her one solo record almost all of my sentient years, just waiting for the day that I’d get to see the Lauryn Hill in concert.

And that day is coming on November 13 at Comerica Theatre. Whether she plays right at 8 p.m. or I’m there until 2 a.m., I don’t care. It’s going to be an honor to see such a rare talent — the prodigy of the Fugees  — live. So you can be the schmuck who leaves angrily after waiting an hour or two for a god damn queen to take the stage, or you can clear your schedule for the evening (“But actually, Westworld is on.” Shut up. Get HBO Go like a normal person) and buckle in for a likely awe-inspiring musical experience. I honestly don’t care what you do as long as you keep your snarky remarks to yourself.

Have a nice show.
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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch