Lizzo surprised fans at her Washington, DC, concert on Tuesday with a historic performance — playing a 200-year-old crystal flute that once belonged to President James Madison, a founding father.
“Bitch, I’m scared,” she joked with the audience. “It’s crystal. It’s like playing out of a wine glass.”
The Grammy-winning pop star has long been known for her talent on the flute. A classically trained flutist, she has gone viral in particular for her ability to twerk while playing trills. And on Tuesday, she became the first (and so far only) person known to have played the historic instrument.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told BuzzFeed News that she was "thrilled" to see the performance and help make it happen. "Lizzo thanked the Library of Congress for making history cool," Hayden said in a statement. "She made it cooler.”
“NOBODY HAS EVER HEARD THIS FAMOUS CRYSTAL FLUTE BEFORE,” she posted on Twitter. “NOW YOU HAVE.”
The flute, according to the Library of Congress, was rescued from the White House in 1814 during the British invasion of Washington, DC, during the War of 1812. The library currently hosts more than 1,800 historical flutes — one of the largest collections in the world.
Lizzo became a special “flute guest” when Hayden reached out to the pop star on Twitter. “@lizzo we would love for you to come see it and even play a couple when you are in DC next week,” Hayden wrote. “Like your song they are ‘Good as hell.’”
Fans were quick to note the significance of it all. “Lizzo, a Black female superstar, collaborating with Carla Hayden, the first African American and first woman Librarian of Congress, to use a flute from James Madison,” one wrote, “The symbolism!!!”
“librarians continue to rule,” another said.
James Madison is known for drafting the Bill of Rights and much of the US Constitution. He was also an enslaver and proposed what became the Three-fifths Compromise, under which the Constitution spelled out that enslaved Black Americans didn’t count as much as free Americans in determining state population.
“I love that this history is now part of the flute's history,” another said.
The Library of Congress’s Twitter has also been sharing some clips of Lizzo playing other historic flutes, including one made of plexiglass, during a visit to the library on Monday.
Onstage during Tuesday’s show, Lizzo excitedly reminded her fans that it was a moment to remember. “History is freaking cool, you guys.”