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Jesse Boykins III Breaks It Down

The day after playing a set at the Superdome during the Essence Music Festival this summer, eclectic R&B singer Jesse Boykins III wandered into Mardi Gras World — an expansive, airy warehouse packed wall to wall with floats used in New Orleans' infamous parades. The floats are built from the ground up in-house, so Boykins found himself surrounded by unfinished works and spare parts.

With the whir of a huge exhaust fan behind him, the singer forwent accompaniment and sang one of the most emotional tracks from his latest album a cappella. While singing "4 U 2 B Free," Boykins pulled back the layers of his own creation, matching his performance to the exposed, oddly vulnerable characters surrounding him.

Set List

  • "4 U 2 B Free"
  • Credits

    Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Frannie Kelley; Event Producer: Saidah Blount; Videographers: Mito Habe-Evans, Colin Marshall, Olivia Merrion, Kiana Fitzgerald; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Editor: Colin Marshall; Special Thanks: Mardi Gras World, Mark and Rachel Dibner of the Argus Fund; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Kiana Fitzgerald is a freelance music journalist, cultural critic, and DJ. She writes for the world from deep in the heart of Texas.