Grammy president explains Adele glitch, Rihanna and Lauryn Hill absences

LOS ANGELES -- Neil Portnow, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, visited backstage to explain what happened with the sound during Adele’s performance.

“There was a technical glitch. But let me preface that by saying our show is the most complicated in terms of audio and we have the A+ team, so 99.9 percent of the time it’s flawless…What happened was that Adele’s performance was on the satellite stage, and they have to lift a piano to put it on there. In the piano, there’s a mic. What we understand happened was, the mic dropped in the piano and hit the strings. When the hammer of the piano hits those strings, it sounds like there’s something in there. We have backup systems and it order to get to the backup system, you have to cut off the initial system. Usually, it is seamless. It was not seamless. It was fixed in a matter of seconds, but we’re never happy when something like that happens.”

Portnow also confirmed that Rihanna, who has been dealing with bronchitis, rehearsed her performance earlier in the day, but shortly afterward, a doctor advised her not to sing for fear of causing her vocal cords to hemorrhage.

Another point of clarification was Lauryn Hill, who wasn’t announced, but was set to pop up as a surprise guest of The Weeknd during his performance of “In the Night.” She, too, rehearsed on Monday, but “didn’t get back in time to do the show.” Portnow said they were literally waiting until the moment The Weeknd stepped on stage for Hill to arrive.


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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.