Another “fire” performance


After a British ambush in the War of 1812, a fire raged through Washington, D.C., but moments before it reached the White House, a crystal flute sitting within its walls grabbed Dolley Madison’s attention. Among other artifacts, Madison saved the flute from the damage, and almost 200 years later, the flute glittered its way through another fire performance in the hands of popstar Lizzo.  

French flute maker Claude Laurent crafted the instrument as a gift to former President James Madison in honor of his second inauguration. The crystal artifact found its way to the Library of Congress along with 1800 other flutes, which is now believed to be one of the largest collections of the instrument. On Friday, Sept. 23, the librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, posted a tweet picturing a collection of flutes, including Madison’s, and tagged Lizzo with an invitation to come visit while she was in D.C., and Lizzo responded enthusiastically to the post. 


Lizzo has been playing the flute since a young age, and she even has her own flute named Sasha. The Library of Congress dropped several hints of their guest, as Lizzo experimented with multiple flutes from the collection. In her concert the following night, handlers brought out Madison’s crystal flute, and she carefully played the instrument in front of thousands. After gingerly returning the artifact, Lizzo exclaimed her thanks to the Library of Congress for “making history freaking cool.” 

“I thought that it was great to see history preserved by Lizzo playing the glass flute. It made it seem like American history is still looked upon. It is especially cool since the flute is only one of two items that survived the first White House being burned down,” Neal O’Conner, junior, said. 

In a glittery body suit that matched the flute’s beauty, Lizzo’s performance was more than the sounds that carried through the concert venue. James Madison, being a former slave owner, brought even more significance to the stage, as Lizzo helped to reinstate the founding father’s artifact as a celebration of Black female empowerment. 

“Lizzo is one of the most talented artists of this time, and she is playing the flute of a slave owner. Generally speaking, supporters of slavery did not believe slaves of African descent had the same capabilities of white Americans during that time. Watching her incredible musical talent helps to dismantle that belief,” Rebecca Schwartz, Advanced Placement U. S. History teacher, said. 

From a quiet place in the Library of Congress to the excitement of a concert stage, Madison’s crystal flute made history in Lizzo’s hands. Many who were there for the experience felt a sense of pride watching their idol do the unimaginable and have shared videos of the performance on social media platforms. Do not miss a chance to watch the groundbreaking flautist.