The country music fans are quite obsessed with this country-tinged acapella vocal group, Home Free band, and it’s easy to tell why. It’s pretty amazing how the group’s acapella covers, from Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” will make you fall in love with old favorites all over again.
Home Free quickly became a fixture on the country charts over the past few years. Even with the fact that there’s no lick of guitar, harmonica, or banjo, to be heard on their much-admired albums. Let’s get to know their story.
Home Free Started Out As A Hobby
Home Free is an acapella group with five founding members composed of brothers Chris and Adam Rupp, Darren Scruggs, Dan Lemke, and Matt Atwood. They are known for blending barbershop harmonies with a country twang as well as hip hop beatboxing.
But what makes them different from other artists is that they use nothing more than the human voice in delivering a unique blend of Nashville standards, and soulful pop hits that hit all the right notes.
Their music career had actually come a long way over the past two decades when brothers Chris and Adam Rupp formed the group in 2000 in Mankato, Minnesota, during their teens. They got their name from a boat owned by Atwood’s grandfather, who supported them financially in their early years.
What actually began as a hobby, gradually gained them experience and popularity. Later on, they cut their teeth playing over 200 shows within a year at theaters, state fairs, and college campuses all over the country.
By 2007, Home Free already had enough of a following to pursue music full-time. However, other members of the group came and went. But what the group found to be the most challenging part in building a following was educating people about what really was happening on stage. “The most obvious common misconception that people have about a cappella is that there are instruments playing. They just don’t believe that it’s all being produced by the human voice,” Adam said.
“It’s not ’til usually the drum solo that it actually dawns on them that hey, this is actually being made live and there are no special effects happening.”
The group self-released five albums, From the Top (2006), Kickin’ It Old School (2009), Christmas, Vol. 1 and Christmas, Vol. 2 (2010), and Live from the Road (2012) before becoming big in country music.
From Minnesota to NBC’s The Sing-Off
In 2013, Home Free only had the Rupps remaining as its only original members. The current lineup included Rob Lundquist from Brooklyn Park, Austin Brown, a native of South Georgia, and Tim Foust, originally from Nederland, Texas.
The vocal band featured two tenors, a bass, as well as a baritone and, of course, Adam Rupp’s nationally recognized beatboxing skills. Home Free also turned into a country act. “We’re embracing it,” Chris said in 2013. “We’re a country group now.”
The group had the biggest break of their lives when they won NBC’s show The Sing Off in 2013 with a stunning rendition of Hunter Hayes’ “I Want Crazy” in the finals.
The group revealed that they had auditioned for every season of the show. Luckily, the country flair helped them finally land a spot in the fourth season of the competition. They became one of 10 groups vying for the title of best a cappella group. In addition to the $100,000 prize they received, they also earned a Sony Music recording contract.
They made their major-label debut in 2014 with “Crazy Life,” a crossover triumph that peaked No. 8 on the Country Albums chart and cracked the mainstream Top 40. The success continued for the group that before 2014 ended, they released an album of songs for the holidays, Full of Cheer. In 2015, they also released Country Evolution. The album includes guest appearances by Taylor Davis, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Charlie Daniels.
Co-Founder, Chris Rupp, Left Home Free
Following the success of their three albums, founding member Chris Rupp announced his departure from the band. His brother Adam and the rest of the band broke the news on their official website. They also uploaded an emotional YouTube message to their fans that showed how strong the group’s bond remains.
Rupp’s departure was not due to any discord between the bandmates, but rather an opportunity to pursue “his solo career and passion projects, including his recent album, Shine.”
“We would not be here without Chris. He is the founder of this group and has achieved so much — even more than thought possible — with us, but he’s ready for a new chapter in his life,” Home Free’s wrote on their official. “And this is not a goodbye to Chris. We’ll still be collaborating with him on various projects.”
The rest of the group resumed their busy touring schedule, releasing albums and hit songs, much to the excitement of fans. In 2019, they released a brand-new cover; this time, it was Restless Heart’s “Why Does It Have to Be (Wrong or Right).”
“One of our favorite parts about what we do is the fact that we get to bring the music that shaped who we are as artists to a younger generation,” added Adam Chance. “Take this tune, for example. It’s hard to believe it’s 32 years old! Some of our fan base wasn’t even born when it was released. Hopefully, they hear our version, and it gets them excited enough to dive into the world of ’80s and ’90s country music.”
Though Home Free covered songs from the last several decades of country music, they admit that they feel special emotions towards the music they grew up on. “When it comes to picking out the songs we cover, it’s definitely a process, and it’s no secret that we’re inspired by a range of genres. We’d be lying, however, if we said we didn’t have a special place in our heart for those classic country tunes,” Chance explained.