Lauryn Hill’s Long Road To Rock The Bells: A Timeline

A history of the reclusive artist's spotty returns to the stage.

[artist id="150232"]Lauryn Hill[/artist] is making a much-heralded return to the stage — and the spotlight — at this year’s Rock the Bells Tour.
However, die-hard fans of the Grammy-winning singer/MC hope the appearance breaks L-Boogie’s decade-long tradition of mounting rare and spotty shows.

Hill, who shot to fame as a member of the pioneering hip-hip trio the Fugees, became a critically-acclaimed media darling and the subject of arguably cultish fan worship after the breakout success of her solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Yet, in the wake of the chart-topping success of Miseducation and her then record-setting five Grammy wins in 1999, the artist began to withdraw from the world stage. Sure, she rocked the VMAs, scored a Best Dressed nod from Vogue, and continued to nab a bevy of music trophies.

However, by 2001 Hill had nearly vanished from the scene. She released the live album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 in 2002 but since then, public sightings of Hill have been relegated to the odd festival appearance.

Here’s a timeline of Hill’s stage shows after the success of Miseducation:

»After Miseducation dropped in 1998, Hill grabbed Outkast as the opening act for her first solo tour which kicked off in February 1999. “It’s really kind of unlike anything in hip-hop before. I’ve got a horn section and all these people onstage. It’s a lot of fun, we bring the music to you live,” L-Boogie toldMTV News in April of that year.

»Hill’s solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill snagged five trophies at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards.
Hill chose to perform the album cut “To Zion” with Carlos Santana instead of hit singles like “Doo Wop (That Thing)” because “that was a song that I’d never had the opportunity to perform [live].”

» David Bowie introduced Lauryn Hill at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. The singer and MC ripped a medley including “Lost Ones” and “Everything Is Everything.”

»Hill appeared on the revamped Smokin’ Grooves Tour with The Roots and onetime tourmates Outkast in 2002. She played an acoustic set and eschewed much of her hit catalog. “A lot of her diehard fans are thrown off and hope she would go back to doing one Fugees song or one song off of [The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill],” The Roots’ ?uestlove said at the time. “But I’ve seen people crying [when she sings].”

»At a 2003 concert at the Vatican, Hill blasted the Catholic church for the institution’s alleged role in widespread sexual abuse scandals involving priests. “I realize some of you may be offended by what I’m saying, but what do you say to the families who were betrayed by the people in whom they believed?” Hill reportedly said.

»Hill reunited with the Fugees for a September concert in Brooklyn thrown by comedian Dave Chappelle. The show is later featured in the documentary “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.”

»Buzz about a possible Fugees reunion ramped up when Hill, Pras and Wyclef played a 2006 Grammy party concert after surprising the crowd with a set at the 2005 BET Awards.

»Hill surprised fans once again with a set at the 2006 Rock the Bells festival in California. Sporting a yellow hoodie and big hair, L-Boogie spit “Doo Wop (That Thing),” “Lost Ones” and the Fugees’ “How Many Mics.”

»Hill made headlines with a 2007 free show in Brooklyn. Donning garish makeup, bold jewelry and a leather fringe vest in late-summer heat, Hill scatted her way through sometimes incomprehensible versions of her songs.

» Hill co-headlined a 2010 New Zealand festival and sang “Doo Wop” dressed in a leather jacket and sun bonnet. The star was reportedly more cheerful and happy about hitting the stage than in previous shows.

Are you excited to see Lauryn Hill get back onstage? Let us know in the comments below!