Explore New Orleans

My New Orleans: Big Freedia

One-on-one with the ambassador of Bounce.

September is a big month for Big Freedia, aka Freddie Ross, the New Orleans hip-hop artist who helped propel the local Bounce movement onto the international stage and introduce the word “twerk” into the modern-day lexicon. Coming off a summer-long promotional tour for “Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva” (Gallery Books) and heading into the fourth season of the Fuse Network’s record-breaking reality show, “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce,” the multimedia megastar recently made a NOLA pit stop for some good home cooking (“I don’t want anybody else’s food”) and much-needed r and r. Then Where came calling—excuse, we don’t mean to be rude.

You hold a Guinness World Record, have a new book out, the fourth season of your TV series coming up and your own talking key chain. What’s next, world domination?
I’m just working, trying to stay on top of things and be creative. There are so many irons in the fire right now. I’m working really hard on a new album that should be out late September, and slowly but surely working on a cookbook as well.

Big Freedia book (©Gallery Books)
Freedia's memoir charts his meteoric rise from chubby choirboy to booty-popping breakthrough. (©Gallery Books)

What’s your fall look like?
Crazy. Season four [of the Fuse series] comes out September 30, so they’ll have me running all over the world doing promos for that. And I’m getting ready for my fall/winter tour, which covers everywhere from New York to Atlanta to Houston to Nashville. It’s going to be a constant tour and a bigger one, about two months out. 

Talk about audience participation at your shows.
I love to connect with the crowd. My fans give me their energy, and I bounce it back to them. At every show I have at least 100 people raising their hands and trying to come on stage with me. It’s so amazing to go out of town and get so much love.

You travel a lot. What’s the one thing you have to take with you?
My Zatarain’s olives. You can’t find them anywhere but down South.

Zatarain's Olives (©Shawn Fink)
Olives keep Freedia fueled while on the road. (©Shawn Fink)

You just returned from Paris. Did you have to purchase more luggage while you were there?
Europe is so fashionable; I always bring back cool and unique things.

Which of the cities you’ve visited most reminds you of New Orleans?
Austin’s Sixth Street kind of has a Bourbon feel, and New York’s swag—the way the people carry themselves—is similar to New Orleans’. There are a few places that remind me of here, but this will always be home.

In the book you write, “We make definitions that work for us down here.” How would you define New Orleans?
It’s a welcoming city, a place of love and free-spirited people. Our food is unique and special, our people are unique and special. There’s no other place for me. I’m not like most artists who leave the city and don’t come to visit. I’ve stayed here, I just bought a new house here—I’m grounded to New Orleans. When I come home after being on the road, it’s like … back to earth.

Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Louisiana (©Shawn Fink)
"When you come to New Orleans," says Freedia, "you get that homey feeling. It's the place I grew up—the place I love." (©Shawn Fink)