Big Freedia is a rapper and dancer who vaulted to national fame from New Orleans’ bounce scene. Bounce is a distinctly New Orleans mode of hip hop, built on a few repetitive beats and call-and-response chants. It’s made for dancing, in a style that often entails bouncing a particular piece of anatomy. Big Freedia made her name as a so-called “sissy bounce” artist — an openly gay and in some instances trans performer of bounce music (born Freddie Ross, Big Freedia is not particular about pronouns but often goes by she/her).
Big Freedia sang in her church choir as a child, and was a cheerleader at Walter L. Cohen High School. Her first professional work was as a backup dancer and singer for Katey Red, the original sissy bounce artist. By the early 2000s Freedia was established as a solo act, and scored a local hit with “Gin In My System” in 2003. Displaced to Texas after Hurricane Katrina, she won over new audiences and returned as one of the city’s hardest working club acts.
As she began touring nationally, Big Freedia’s performances proved to be inclusive, liberating affairs for audiences uninitiated in the ways of bounce. She considers herself an ambassador of the culture — its sound as well as its dancing. Anyone who learned about twerking from Miley Cyrus owes a debt to Big Freedia, and the deeply rooted tradition of African American performance she comes from.
In 2013 she launched a reality television show on Fuse called “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce,” which ran for six seasons, bringing her a new cohort of fans. In recent years her voice has been featured in hit songs by megastars Beyoncé and Drake, though she has not been seen in their videos (perhaps the next frontier of visibility for her).
This mural at The Art Garage, an exhibition and private event space, was painted by Sasha Kopfler in 2017 (the same year the Queen of Bounce premiered her brand of sparkling rosé, Ca’ Di Freedia). “You already know,” the text next to Freedia’s face, is a catchphrase of hers.
"Big Freedia - The Queen Diva," a 30-minute documentary from 2013.
"How To Bounce Like The Queen of New Orleans! - Big Freedia's Bounce Etiquette" an instructional video from 2018.
Official video for Big Freedia's song "Explode."