Last night, during a show in Washington, D.C., Lizzo played a 19th-century crystal flute that once belonged to James Madison, fourth president of the United States and “Father Of The Constitution”.
This is not a series of words that we expected to write today. We did not know, for example, that James Madison owned a crystal flute. We did not know that such a flute was in the possession of the Library Of Congress. And we did not expect that Lizzo would one day perform this strange instrument in front of a crowd of excited fans.
But, as the video below shows, all of this has now happened.
Stereogum wrote about this unexpected event, explaining that the crystal flute was given to Madison “in honor of his second inauguration in 1813" and is one of only two such flutes known to exist. It was made by “Parisian craftsman Claude Laurent, who created ornate bejeweled glass flutes that were popular among royalty and heads of state in the early 19th century.” After Madison received the flute—and presumably spent a lot of his alone time dancing merry jigs around the White House while playing it—it ended up on display at the Library Of Congress.
Last week, the Library Of Congress’ Carla Hayden invited Lizzo, the world’s foremost flutist pop star, to check out the institution’s collection of the instrument—which is apparently the largest in the world—during her Washington, D.C. tour stop. Lizzo responded with a quote tweet showing her immense enthusiasm for playing “that crystal flute.”
Rather than keep the mysterious sounds of the flute to themselves, the instrument was brought out by representatives of the Library Of Congress to Lizzo’s Capital One Arena concert last night so its tones could be heard by all.
In the video that accompanies Lizzo tweeting that she’s now “the first & only person to ever play this presidential 200-year-old crystal flute,” we see her carefully retrieve the instrument, walk it over to a mic, then prepare to use it by noting “it’s like playing out of a wine glass, so be patient.”
She briefly plays the flute, dancing very carefully at the same time, then returns it to a Library Of Congress rep before shouting out: “Bitch, I just twerked and played James Madison’s crystal flute from the 1800s!” She looks around the crowd, then continues: “We just made history tonight!”
What Lizzo doesn’t address is what it could mean for the nation as a whole that the mysterious crystal flute has now been heard once more, perhaps for the first time in more than a century—or ever. We can only hope that its otherworldly tones signal the coming of a great new utopian era, one where everyone is given a crystal flute to play as they stroll down sunny streets, sending happy sounds out over the country.
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