Lizzo Playing Live Featuring James Madison’s Flute


Lizzo playing flute photocred. Texas Monthly

On September 26, Grammy Award-winning Lizzo played a two-hundred year old crystal flute that was owned by president James Madison, twice. Lizzo took a tour of the Library of Congress, invited by librarian Carla Hayden, where she got the opportunity to see Madison’s flute, along with seeing the other flutes in the library’s collection. Lizzo then got permission from the library to play Madison’s flute for a few seconds during her tour, making it a historical moment as she is the first and only person to play it. But to many people, this was not a historical moment; instead it’s a moment that sparked a controversy in the nation.

Many Republicans have taken to their social media platforms to explain why they believe Lizzo should not have been able to play the flute and it was not because the flute was fragile. Many of them believe that, by having a woman like Lizzo play something with such history and not show decorum was extremely disrespectful of her. By the Republicans giving their take on the situation it caused people to question if she’s even qualified to be playing the flute. Blac.Media quoted conservative Nick Adam, who said on Twitter that “Lizzo isn’t talented enough to play music on a $20 Yamaha Plastic Recorder off Amazon let alone a crystal flute once owned by James Madison. The Biden Administration is making a mockery of the country.” Others claimed that Lizzo doesn’t have respect for our country. Variety quoted Daily Mail editor Mike Walsh:“[It sends a] message that our heritage and history are meaningless and that nothing we love or care about has any value.” While taking the backlash, Lizzo never responded back and took her historical moment as a win for herself.

Yet, many people took to her side because they felt that something like this should not be brushed over or taken lightly because of the elements of the situation. MSNBC Writer Haynes Brown agreed:“[T]hey are mad because someone who is living her life as unapologetically fat, Black and female dare have a good time in public. They are mad because something that was once owned by a slaveholding Virginian aristocrat would be introduced to America as part of a concert where Lizzo dared jiggle for a second or two while playing it.” Many on the internet feel the same way that Haynes feels because it should be a joyous moment; the flute was originally given to somebody who was a slave owner and it got played by a Black woman. This moment was a representation of how the times are changing, even if some people don’t like the change.

The Library of Congress took all the necessary procedures and cautions to make sure that the flute was safe and secure traveling from hand to hand and place to place, and it went back to its original spot after it was used.