Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Appearance At A “Notorious RBG in Song” Show Was Her First Since Surgery

By Caroline Burke
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

After undergoing cancer-related surgery in December, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's appearance at a Notorious RBG in Song production on Monday evening marked her first public outing. 85-year-old Ginsburg didn't make any official statements before, during, or after the program, The Washington Post confirms, and most people didn't even know she was there. Of course, the justice might have had a more personal reason for attending, besides the obvious fact that the production is about her life: her daughter-in-law, Patrice Michaels, composed and performed it, herself.

According to The Washington Post, Notorious RBG in Song was performed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. And if you're not in the D.C. area any time soon, don't sweat it: it's possible to buy the album and listen to all of the songs about Notorious RBG at home.

According to an interview with NPR, Michaels started working on this album in secret, and didn't tell her husband, who is Ginsburg's son. Michaels said to NPR, "I like my process as a composer to be a little bit private." Her husband, James Ginsburg, added, "And once I heard how good the songs were, I realized what a treasure we had here."

The album was released from James' label, Cedille Records, in July; all of the songs are sung by Michaels, who is a soprano. Ginsburg has yet to give a statement on what it feels like to have your life memorialized in song.

Cedille Records on YouTube

According to CNN, the concert was performed by Michaels and a number of other musicians. Ginsburg's attendance was noted first by Jeff Rosen, the CEO of the National Constitution Center.

Rosen tweeted, "Thrilled that Justice Ginsburg attended the first concert performance of #NotoriousRBG in Song. She, Patrice Michaels, and the performance were magnificent!"

Per CNN, Ginsburg was released from the hospital in December after she underwent surgery to remove two cancerous nodules from her lung. The news network reports that Ginsburg missed several in-person oral arguments before the court, during this time, and she also canceled two events scheduled for January and early February. And of course, there will likely be intense speculation over Ginsburg's health if she chooses not to attend the SOTU, despite the fact that she skipped the SOTU last year, anyway.

It's no surprise that Ginsburg's first public outing would be theater-related; her love of the arts has been documented over the years. In an interview with The Washingtonian, Ginsburg explained her passion simply: "Art makes life beautiful."

TIME on YouTube

Ginsburg raised her children to appreciate culture and the arts, she explained to the publication: “Every Saturday and Sunday, we went to something culturally enriching.” However, she did not take credit for her son James' musical inclinations (the fact that he is now a producer and married a soprano singer). Ginsburg said to The Washingtonian, “I think it’s just innate.”

It's also not surprising that Ginsburg wouldn't make a big show of her outing. The self-proclaimed introvert has always acknowledged her relative discomfort with the spotlight. To The New York Times in July, Ginsburg said, "Every once in a while, when someone comes up to me and says, ‘Oh, Justice Ginsburg, you are my idol,’ I say, ‘Um, so many people have told me that I look just like her.’”