Freddie Ross got his start singing in the Baptist church choir in his Uptown New Orleans neighborhood. “My mother made sure I never missed practice,” he said. Today, Freddie is best known as Big Freedia, the Queen of Bounce.
Big Freedia is an ambassador for Bounce music who you may have seen on her reality TV show Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce. Bounce is a hip-hop subgenre invented in New Orleans and performed by artists like Mannie Fresh, among others. It is said to have evolved from the call and response style of Mardi Gras Indian chants, with the addition of heavy bass, uptempo, and of course, twerking.
Big Freedia told TIME in a recent interview, “Twerking is definitely from New Orleans. It’s one dance move, but everyone has their own twist on it. Everyone has a different feeling of how they twerk.”
She rejects the term ‘Sissy Bounce,’ often used to describe bounce performed by gay artists and drag queens, saying “There’s no need to separate it out. All types of people—gay, straight, rich, poor, black, white come to my shows. People just wanna get out and shake their azzzz and have a good time!”
In her hit single “Explode” from her newest album Just Be Free, Big Freedia begins with a monologue that says it best:
“My music, it makes me feel good about what I do and the culture that I represent. People get confused by if I am he or she. I am more than just Big Freedia. I am more than just Queen Diva. I am more than just Freddie Ross. I am me. I am the ambassador representingfor New Orleans and for Bounce Music. So many things in my head sometimes, it just all makes me want to explode.”
20 Questions with Big Freedia
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
My mom, for sure. She died in April of this year, but she had such style and class. She was the original Queen Diva.
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
My mom! I was born here.
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
Oh, I like them all, but I’d say Uptown. Being born and raised on Josephine Street, I have so many memories. My church was there, too. I just love it.
4. City Park or Audubon Park?
City Park. The Botanical Garden is gorgeous.
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans?
My mom’s fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, rice and beans, and cornbread. She would make it Sunday nights for our whole family. There just wasn’t anything better.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
Stanley’s in the French Quarter.
Hot Sausage Po-boy at Gene’s Po-boys!
8. You’ve got friends visiting and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
Deanie’s Seafood. That is a true Southern meal and it’s the best seafood in New Orleans.
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
I have a few. Republic and Club Caesar’s are at the top of the list!
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail and where do you go to get it?
Vodka cranberry at Twelve Mile Limit.
11. Snowball or Daiquiri? Where from and what flavor?
Daiquiri. Strawberry, of course! From Club Endzone.
12. Best spot to see live music?
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
Right now, I love this new band called The Honorable South. They are an electro rock soul band and have a very original sound.
14. Favorite New Orleans Festival?
15. Favorite Mardi Gras parade?
16. Where do you shop in New Orleans?
Michael’s and the French Quarter.
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
Presbytere in the French Quarter. I love to see all the old Mardi Gras masks and figures.
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
My place. My whole family comes over and we cook and watch the game.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans and why?
Today, when I came home from being on the road for a week. I love coming back to friends and family and NOLA culture. New Orleans will always be home.