The sweet sound of history being made was heard by thousands in the Capital One Arena in D.C. Tuesday night, thanks to Lizzo and the power of an old gift.
During a break from her setlist of “The Special Tour,” the singer, rapper, and classically trained flutist took a moment onstage to reveal a literal gem loaned to her from the Library of Congress: James Madison’s centuries-old crystal flute. The fourth president of the United States received the handmade instrument as a gift from France in 1813 in honor of his second inauguration. However, the heirloom had never once been played or heard by anyone’s ears, sitting in silent collection among 1,800 other flutes for over 200 years–until now.
“NOBODY HAS EVER HEARD THIS FAMOUS CRYSTAL FLUTE BEFORE,” Lizzo wrote on Twitter. “NOW YOU HAVE.”
While onstage, a Library of Congress handler carefully handed the crystal flute to Lizzo, who held it up in a moment of glory before blowing her first sustained note. Eyes wide with apparent amazement, she began playing a trill while twerking to the beat. The audience, of course, went wild.
“B—h, I just twerked and played James Madison’s crystal flute from the 1800s,” Lizzo exclaimed. “We just made history tonight!”
It was a spectacular moment in music history that not only shows how the past intertwines with the present but how far American society has come from the time of President Madison. Though Madison helped shape the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution, he was also the originator of the 3/5 Compromise, which counted each enslaved African as ⅗ of a person for state vote totals. To see Lizzo, a Black female superstar, wielding his cherished crystal flute is a symbolic and necessary sight to see.