Her last name is not Windsor, Habsburg or Bourbon, nor is she descended from any royal house, but Big Freedia is a queen and also a diva. In her own way.
Freedia is the queen of bounce, a subgenre of hip hop originating in New Orleans, her hometown and from where the artist — and also influencer, businesswoman and LGTBIQ+ activist — has expanded her kingdom and has rubbed shoulders with stars like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Drake.
Now the Queen Diva, who this year has been promoting her CD Central City, is visiting Havana. She landed this week in the island’s capital with her music, her entourage and her overflowing authenticity.
“It is essential to know oneself very well and always try to be oneself,” she said this Thursday to a group of Cuban entrepreneurs and artists in one of the exchanges that she has held these days in Cuba.
More than a commercial recipe or an audience-pleasing phrase, those words seem to be her golden banner, her motto engraved on her glamorous royal coat of arms.
In Havana, Big Freedia has had an intense program. Visits to cultural enterprises and private businesses, musical sessions and exchanges with other artists, twerking lessons, fashion parties, tastings and talks.
In particular, the protagonist of television shows has spoken in Havana with members of three fundamental communities in her life, in her personal and also professional projection: music, entrepreneurship and the LGTBIQ+ community.
She has shared experiences with them, she has given them advice, she has learned about their realities, difficulties and interests. She has not been to Havana simply to fulfill an agenda and pose for photos, but to immerse herself as much as possible in those realities, even with the visit’s quick pace, although perhaps a broader audience would have allowed her a more precise and comprehensive portrait of the country she claims to have fallen in love with.
“I’m in love with Cuba. Being here has been a wonderful experience. Being able to know the culture, the music, the feeling, the way of people on the street; it’s been incredible,” she told OnCuba this Thursday after her meeting with entrepreneurs.
In that conversation, held at the Tempo Bar in Vedado, Big Freedia talked about her experiences as a businesswoman, her current and future projects — such as the opening of a hotel in New Orleans — she listened to the opinions and experiences of Cuban entrepreneurs, answered questions and advised those starting out.
Never shy away from learning, always maintain humility, leave your comfort zone, promote teamwork, give back to the community and see failure as an opportunity for growth, were some of the keys given to her audience by the artist, born in 1978.
“I’ve felt at home”
The queen of bounce concluded her program in Havana this Saturday, with a concert at 11:00 p.m. at Fábrica de Arte, but before leaving she is already thinking about returning. Her return, she told OnCuba, could even be as close as next January.
Regarding her visit to the city of Havana and her impressions on the exchanges held here, she assured our media that she felt “at home.”
“I have been to many places, I have acted in and visited many places, but the feeling you get here is unique. The character of the people, the way they relate and connect with others is special. Cubans’ way of being has made me feel like nowhere else in the world, like at home,” said the Queen Diva.
Regarding the meetings with musicians, entrepreneurs and members of the LGTBIQ+ community, she stated that they have been “very interesting and revealing,” and she celebrated the opportunity to be able to “connect” with them thanks to this visit.
“I have seen a lot of connection between the people of those communities here in Havana, in Cuba, and what is happening in New Orleans. Despite the differences, there are also many similarities. In their interests, in their projection. It has been an experience that has helped me to get to know that reality, to connect with them, and to see how two peoples that are different can be so similar also from a human point of view,” she commented.
Big Freedia thanked “the kindness and affection” of those who opened their doors to her and shared with her their experiences and their art in Havana. She did not want to go without leaving a message to the Cubans and, in particular, the communities with which she exchanged.
“My message is that they continue forward, that they do not stop fighting for their rights, and that they do not stop working or doing for them, and for the well-being of the country. That entrepreneurs continue creating ventures, that the LGTBIQ+ community continue fighting for a greater space in society, that artists continue developing culture; that is important. Even when the government is in control, the power is always in the people and in their will to do and move forward,” she said.
So is the Queen Diva returning to Cuba?
I have felt very happy to be here, to be able to meet wonderful people, to try Cuban food, which is delicious, to listen to and see Cuban music live, to share with Cuban artists, who are incredible. It’s been great and we have big plans in the future related to Cuba.