Lizzo plays 200-year-old flute owned by former US president

By Editor | Sep 29, 2022

Lizzo has made musical history at her concert as she played an incredibly rare, 200-year-old crystal flute made for President James Madison. 

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden took to Twitter to invite the 34-year-old, who has played the flute since childhood, to try out some of the Library’s extensive collection of flutes.

The About Damn Time singer is a classically trained flutist who began playing in fifth grade and considered studying at the Paris Conservatory; she has woven flute into many of her songs, and has played virtually with the New York Philharmonic. Her flute, named Sasha Flute, even has its own Instagram page.

“I’m scared,” Lizzo said as she took the sparkling instrument from Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford, a curator at the Library of Congress, who had carefully removed the flute from its customised protective case. “It’s crystal. It’s like playing out of a wine glass.”

A spokesperson for the Library of Congress told the BBC that the flute might have been played in public on a rare special occasion in the past, most likely in Madison's time.

Until Lizzo picked up the flute, the Library's curator, who had worked at the Library since 1993, had never heard it played live.

Following her historic gig on Tuesday evening, The Library of Congress tweeted to confirm the flute had been returned safely.

"We just did a DNA test," they posted. "Turns out: It's 100% that [crystal] flute" - a play on words with the lyrics from Lizzo's hit song Truth Hurts.

James Madison, America's fourth President from 1809 to 1817, made a significant contribution to the ratification of the Constitution by writing The Federalist Papers, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. Later, he was referred to as the Father of the Constitution.

A French fluter made the ornate instrument in 1813 specifically for Madison in honor of his second inauguration, according to the Library of Congress. It says it's possible that the flute was one of a handful of valuables that former first lady Dolley Madison took with her from the White House as she fled just before British troops set fire to Washington, D.C., in 1814.