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Big Freedia

A veteran of the New Orleans music scene who took the city's bounce music movement national, the flamboyant performer and personality known as Big Freedia, Queen Diva, became the mainstream face of bounce across the United States. Delivering high-energy, body-positive, and LGBTQ-empowering anthems, she made her breakthrough in 2014 with the debut Just Be Free, featuring "Booty-Whop" and "Explode," and followed with 2018's 3rd Ward Bounce. Her official sophomore LP, the more pop-leaning Central City, landed in 2023. In addition to her music, the bounce ambassador also starred in her own reality shows, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce and Big Freedia Bounces Back, and a 2020 documentary about gun violence, Freedia Got a Gun. Born Freddie Ross in 1978, Freedia grew up a fan of Sylvester, Michael Jackson, and Patti LaBelle, joining the bounce movement in 1998 when she joined drag queen and bounce artist Katey Red's posse. Attracted by the music's furious hip-hop beats and house music vocals, Freedia released her own bounce single, "An Ha, Oh Yeah," in 1999, followed by the Queen Diva album in 2003. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Freedia relocated to Texas and helped spread the bounce sound in the Lone Star State. A guest appearance on Galactic's 2010 album Ya-Ka-May coincided with the singles collection Big Freedia Hitz, Vol. 1, while the latter was picked up for national distribution in 2011 by the Scion A/V label. Also in 2011, Freedia collaborated with Spank Rock on the track "Nasty," while the year 2012 was marked by appearances on the HBO series Treme along with the talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live. In 2013, she toured the U.S. as the Postal Service's opening act, while 2014 saw the release of her official debut full-length, Just Be Free. In 2016, Freedia's iconic voice was featured in Beyoncé's "Formation" video and a subsequent world tour. She also released the aptly titled "Drop" as a single and video; the collaboration with Diplo and DJ Snake -- which appeared on the Entourage movie soundtrack -- arrived that summer. Before the new year, Freedia hopped on the holiday album sleigh and released A Very Big Freedia Christmazz, which featured gems like "Rudy, the Big Booty Reindeer" and "Santa Is a Gay Man." In 2017, Freedia jumped onto "Dive" with rapper Mannie Fresh, who appeared on the Queen of Bounce show. "Make It Jingle" and "Best Beeleevah" followed in 2018. That April, another major co-sign -- this time from rapper Drake -- placed Freedia at the start of his chart-topping, bounce-indebted hit single "Nice for What." She quickly followed with the release of her major-label debut for Asylum Records, 3rd Ward Bounce. The EP featured the single "Rent" as well as appearances by Lizzo, Erica Falls, and Goldie. The next year, Freedia featured on "Poppin'" by U.K. electronic producer GotSome, as well as Dillon Francis' electro-bounce romp "Bawdy" with TV Noise. The first single from her 3rd Ward Bounce follow-up landed later that year. "Louder" featured Swedish electro-pop duo Icona Pop, who contributed an additional track, "Pipe That," to 2020's Louder EP. The short set also featured Kesha, who returned the favor for the pair's hit single "Raising Hell" with the uplifting "Chasing Rainbows." A holiday EP, Big Freedia's Smokin Santa Christmas, arrived in December 2020. That year, in addition to the new music, Freedia released a documentary about life in New Orleans and the effects of gun violence -- tied to her brother's 2018 murder -- titled Freedia Got a Gun. In the lead-up to her next full-length album, she joined Dorian Electra and 3OH!3 for a 2021 remix of Rebecca Black's viral hit "Friday" and appeared on another Beyoncé hit, "Break My Soul." Meanwhile, Freedia also appeared as a judge on both RuPaul's Drag Race and Nailed It! By 2023, it was time for the long-awaited sophomore set, Central City. Arriving that June, the album pushed Freedia further into the mainstream with bounce-flavored, pop-leaning anthems such as "$100 Bill" featuring Ciara and the stomping "El Niño" with boundary-pushing feminist rapper Boyfriend and fellow New Orleans legend Lil Wayne.
© Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo

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