Lizzo makes history cool playing 200-year-old flute owned by former president


Houston’s Lizzo recently received a special invitation to perform at the Library of Congress. On Tuesday, the “About Damn Time” singer came through and made history.

Carla Hayden, head of the Library of Congress, on Friday made the invite via Twitter to the Emmy Award-winning singer, rapper and classically trained flutist to check out their massive flute collection and even offered to let her play some of them during her tour stop at the Capitol One Arena in Washington, DC this week. “Tuesday night, the Library of Congress tweeted a photo of Lizzo along with a label reading “Flute Guest,” hinting that the artist took up the offer.


Video from the performance that surfaced overnight shows Lizzo fittingly wearing a sparkling bodysuit as she briefly played a 200-year-old crystal flute that reportedly belonged to President James Madison. The flute was made in 1813 by French clock and flutemaker Claude Laurent who gifted the flute to Madison to celebrate his second inauguration, according to the Library of Congress. The library shared photos of Lizzo exploring the flute collection and footage of her practicing at the library before her performance.

President James Madison’s crystal flute, engraved with his name and the year it was made β€” 1813.

Library of Congress


“When Lizzo asked if she could play the flute at her Tuesday concert in front of thousands of fans, the Library’s collection, preservation and security teams were up the challenge,” the Library of Congress wrote in Wednesday blog post. “At the Library, curators ensure that the item can be transported in a customized protective container and a Library curator and security officer are always guarding the item until it is secured once more.”

Lizzo checks the sheet music while playing one of the Library of Congress' flutes.

Lizzo checks the sheet music while playing one of the Library of Congress’ flutes.

Shawn Miller

In a tweet following the special performance, Lizzo confirmed that she is the first and only person to ever play the instrument. A clip of the performance shows the three-time Grammy-winning artist appearing nervous as she carefully grabs the flute from its case, saying: ‘B—h I’m scared. It’s crystal. It’s like playing out of a wine glass b-tch so be patient.” Her fans cheered her on, some shouting “you can do it.”

Lizzo proceeds to play a few notes while twerking and then raises the flute triumphantly before returning it. “B—h I just twerked and played James Madison’s crystal flute from the 1800s!” she shouted. “We just made history tonight! Thank you to the Library of Congress for preserving our history and making history freaking cool. History is freaking cool you guys.” In a second post, Lizzo wrote: “AS A FLUTE PLAYER THIS IS ICONIC AND I WILL NEVER BE OVER IT.”

in response, Hayden tweeted that Lizzo’s reaction “makes my heart swell,” and that the singer is a gift. “And it’s YOU who just made history much more cooler,” she wrote. “We appreciate all the @librarycongress love at the concert last night. We can’t wait to have you back.”

Lizzo with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in the Library's flute vault.

Lizzo with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in the Library’s flute vault.

Shawn Miller/Library of Congress

The Library of Congress confirmed in a tweet referencing Lizzo’s hit “Truth Hurts” that the flute was safely returned to the library after being escorted by Capitol Police, writing: “We just did a DNA test. Turns out: It’s 100% that [crystal] flute @lizzo played at her DC stop on the #SpecialTour tonight.”



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