It all started when Carla Hayden, the first Black, female Librarian of Congress, invited Lizzo to play the Library of Congress’ 200-year-old crystal flute.
The flute, which belonged to former president James Madison in 1813, is part of the Library of Congress’ collection of 1,800 flutes — the largest flute collection in the world.
Days later, Lizzo did indeed play the crystal flute, much to the delight of her D.C. crowd and the internet.
“YALL… THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS LET ME PLAY THEIR HISTORIC 200 YEAR OLD CRYSTAL FLUTE ON STAGE TONIGHT— NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE… NOW YOU DO,” Lizzo captioned an Instagram post featuring footage of her performing with the instrument.
In the video, she says the flute “is crystal, it’s like playing out of a wine glass,” as she gingerly holds it up to the mic.
“B—h, I just twerked and played James Madison’s crystal flute from the 1800s … We just made history tonight!” Lizzo exclaims after playing a few notes, before returning the flute to its handle and thanking the Library of Congress for preserving heirlooms such as the crystal flute.
“YEAH I’M DOUBLE POSTING BUT ‘IM THE FIRST & ONLY PERSON TO PLAY THIS PRESIDENTIAL CRYSTAL FLUTE ITS LITERALLY AN HEIRLOOM — LIKE… AS A FLUTE PLAYER THIS IS ICONIC AND I WILL NEVER BE OVER IT,” Lizzo captioned a second Instagram post with more footage of the historic moment.
Fans and celebs alike were wowed by the iconic moment.
“Love this!!!” Paris Hilton commented, while a fan wrote, “This footage belongs in a museum.”
“This is the most high fantasy thing I’ve ever seen in the real world omg. A mythical crystal flute no one has ever heard play? This is some elf sh-t,” Grimes weighed in.
Over on Twitter, writer and professor Tiffany C. Li shared a thread giving context to the historic moment.
“He was also a slave owner, and he created the 3/5 Compromise (that each enslaved person would count as 3/5 of a person for state electoral vote totals). A complicated legacy,” Li wrote regarding the flute’s original owner, James Madison.
“For many reasons, this event would not have been what James Madison or many of his contemporaries would have wished for or expected from the future. But this is the future now. We can make the future what we want it to be—more vibrant, more just, more equitable, more free,” she continued.