Lizzo Had No Idea She Was Invited to Visit James Madison’s Estate: ‘I’m Gonna Have to Process That’

Lizzo‘s crystal flute toot heard ’round-the-world has landed her a presidential invite. No, Pres. Biden didn’t slip into her DMs to see if she’s free to drop by the White House. The “About Damn Time” rapper has gotten an offer to perform at the 2,650-acre Virginia estate of fourth U.S. President James Madison, Montpelier, after she impressively played the 200-year-old translucent woodwind that was gifted to No. 4 for his second inauguration in 1813.


There’s just one problem: nobody told Lizzo. Though Billboard confirmed the invite earlier this week, when SiriusXM’s Nicole Ryan asked Lizzo about the invite on “The Morning Mash-Up” prior to the rapper’s Small Stage show at Saint Andrew’s Hall in her hometown of Detroit on Thursday night, the initial reaction was disbelief.

Saying she was not aware that there had been backlash to her performance — “I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Lizzo said about the pearl-clutching from some commentators on the right about the viral moment — she seemed even more clued-out about the special opportunity. “I didn’t know that I got invited to James Madison’s estate,” she told Ryan, who asked if the reply was a joke.

“No, for real. I don’t know,” Lizzo said. “I don’t look at stuff.”

“The talented and classically-trained Lizzo brought history to life last week when she played President James Madison’s crystal flute at a packed arena in Washington, DC,” a spokesperson for James Madison’s Montpelier told Billboard about Monday’s performance in D.C. during which Lizzo became the first person to play the flute. “The three-time Grammy Award winner’s songs exemplify how music is a universal language that brings people together. Whatever genre, music helps people connect, express emotions, and create deep, lasting bonds. As Lizzo continues her concert tour in the coming weeks, we’re crossing our fingers that she would consider adding a stop at James Madison’s Montpelier, once home to Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution.”

And while she appreciates the offer of a command performance, Lizzo said she’d have to think on it before RSVPing. “I’m gonna have to process that alone and I’ll come back with an answer cuz that’s wild,” she said. “It is a complicated, very nuance[d] thing because the person, James Madison, I don’t think would’ve liked the fact that me was, a Black woman was playing his flute. Especially in way I was doing it.”

She didn’t specifically lay it out, but to add some context to the performance, Lizzo was playing an instrument that belonged to a slave owner; in fact, by the early 1800s, Madison held more than 100 men, women and children as slaves on the grounds of Montpelier. Also, she twerked after playing the flute, so that may not have gone over that well with the 19th century crowd either.

“That’s the… that’s the positive side of it. You know, it’s a reclamation of history and, and owning the future, but it’s very nuanced,” Lizzo said. “I don’t know if I will go up in his house, you know what I’m saying? He might still be in that home, I don’t know. I think he might be waiting for me.”

Gil Kaufman